Dark Night Skies

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THE ISSUE

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:

 

  • San Bernardino County Dark Sky Committee

    In April 2016, San Bernardino County District 3 Supervisor James Ramos appointed the San Bernardino County Dark Sky Committee (SBCDSC) to interact with the County about its lighting regulations and code, in consideration of the need of dark skies to maintain both lifestyle and the tourism economy in the Desert and Mountain regions of the County.

    Three MBCA Board members are part of this Committee:  Pat Flanagan, Seth Shteir, and Laraine Turk.

    As of October 2016, the Committee has worked with Joshua Tree National Park and the International Dark Sky Association as the Park pursues a Dark Sky Park designation from IDA.  The Committee will also be involved in the Park's Night Sky Festival on October 28-30, 2016.

    Discussion with the Supervisor and County Code Enforcement is planned for November. 
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