An essential characteristic of the Morongo Basin and Joshua Tree National Park that brings tourism revenue to our communities is our dark night skies. Astronomers at all levels appreciate the chance to see deep sky objects in our area, and city dwellers marvel at the number of stars they can see even without telescopes.
But light pollution has many more harmful effects beyond reducing the ability to see the night sky. Smithsonian magazine in May 2017 published a brief article outlining the problem and the surprising commitment of the small country of the Czech Republic in reducing light pollution.
DARK SKY EFFORTS IN THE MORONGO BASIN
MBCA is proud to support Joshua Tree National Park in its application to the International Dark-Sky Association for special Dark Sky Park status. Here is our June 2016 letter in support of the Park's application.
Our local office of the National Parks Conservation Association has also sent a letter in support of the Park's application.
MBCA Directors Claudia Sall and Laraine Turk worked with the Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance on night sky issues between 2010 and 2013. Laraine presented an overview of the Alliance as a panelist at the April 21, 2017, Black Rock Symposium (a lecture series sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park Association through its Desert Institute). Here you can view the Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance PowerPoint Presentation describing the evolution and successes of that group.
In April 2016 a new San Bernardino County Dark Skies Committee was initiated by Supervisor James Ramos. The group has been working with the County to improve the lighting code and its enforcement, as well as to develop some educational programs.
The International Dark Sky Association has answers to almost anything you can think of about dark skies, including why dark skies are important, how to help your neighbor understand the need to shield their lights, and other helpful ideas.
Locally, there are several groups that interpret the night skies for residents and visitors: