Dark Sky Gemini

Most kids don"t see starry night skies.© Getty Images

Sprawling light pollution is blotting out the night sky’s majestic stars and planets (see "Finding the Stars," Tools, January/February 2007). But concerned light activists get big results when they think globally, but act locally.

Bob Crelin, artist, astronomer and author of the children’s book, There Once was a Sky Full of Stars, recently celebrated the 10th birthday of the outdoor lighting regulation he co-wrote for Branford, Connecticut. "We started working on the bill in late 1995," he says, "at a time when only the Southwest was doing very much with outdoor lighting laws." It was tough at first, but opponents of the light pollution law in Branford now back it because energy bills have been reduced and sales unaffected, Crelin explains. The local Honda dealer, for instance, now operates with one fifth of the energy costs of other dealerships. Crelin, who invented the GlareBuster lamp, has assisted in the introduction of similar regulations in other U.S. communities.

"Grownups today remember the starry night sky, but a whole new generation will grow up not knowing about it," Crelin says. "It’s critical to get the message to our kids: This is a simple problem that can and needs to be fixed."