Prescott’s Clear Skies and the Geminid Meteor Shower
I got up at the usual 5:30 AM and got in the spa outside. Today was a special morning. The Geminid Meteor Shower was in full glory. Although I only stayed about ½ hour I saw at least 30 meteors hit our atmosphere.
I am not an astronomer. I can only recognize a few consteallations. I do have a new Droid ap that is fun. Try Google Sky Map and see what is out there any time. It’s a free download.
I am thrilled that we have dark and clear skies to enhance the night sky display. While thinking about are dark skies I was reminded about an article I published a few years ago. It is time to dust it off and send it again. Here it is.
Saving our Western Skies
Northern Arizona enjoys some of the best star gazing anywhere in the world. Our elevation coupled with dry air creates an environment that allows us see a remarkable display of the universe almost every night. But that is something we need to respect and protect.
Phoenix once possessed a diamond sky too. It is now an example of what city lights can do to our wonderful ceiling. Look toward the south on any night and you can see it. Light pollution reaches upward from the Valley. Unless we protect it with controlled lighting, we will start to pollute the sky right here in North Central Arizona.
Light is relative just like color or sound. Try this. Find a white wall or white car. Hold a piece of white paper against it. You discover that one is white and one is actually a color. The same is true for light. It too is relative to its surroundings. Go outside on a dark night. Close your eyes for minute. Open them and see just how much light there really is available.
So why do we need to light our outdoor spaces so brightly? Would a 25 watt bulb give enough light in your immediate yard? What about using low voltage or solar patio lights to guide your way rather than a bright yard light? Why have a light on at all if you are not outside?
You will hear 2 different answers to that question. First is the theory that you need one to see where you are going. If you let your eyes adjust to the darker condition, you will likely not need much light if any. I left a friend’s home last week. They had a spot light on the house facing the driveway. I was walking in my own shadow toward my car and could not see my path. The surrounding light washed out my vision in the area I was actually walking. I turned around to wave goodbye and was met with a beacon of light that blinded me. That lighting was totally ineffective. The second answer you will hear to having lights on is for security. Yet you are only providing light for an intruder. I remember a movie where a blind person was being attached by a bad guy. He turned off the lights to put the intruder in a situation where he was not familiar. The property owner now had the advantage of familiarity. You know your property. Strangers do not. Why provide them the advantage of a well lit area.
I live with a long view over Dewey and Prescott Valley. It amazes me to see the thousands of lights that are left on all night. You could send a kid to college with the money that is spent lighting unoccupied yards. We complain about utility costs yet leave the lights on unwarranted and cause pollution to our night sky.
Commercial building must comply with codes for lighting to reduce light pollution. We, as homeowners, should be concerned about light pollution too.
Here is a good tip to save costs, increase security, provide lighting only when needed, and save our wonderful star filled skies. Change your light fixtures to ones with motion sensors or add a sensor to your existing fixture. The new fixture will pay for itself in a short time with energy savings. It will increase security too. Motion sensor lighting will scare an intruder away when it comes on while a bright light will only invite them. A motion sensor light is there when you need it and off when you do not. It is always ready.
The next time you look up at the night sky and enjoy the gaze, think about what you are doing or could do to protect it. Your actions will guarantee that the view will be there for your kids and grand kids.
Another cost saving convenience for your home is to add a timer to the bathroom exhaust fan. Turn it on to vent the room of shower moisture and it will turn itself off. You will save your bathroom from moisture problems and save energy. And you will not have to remember to go back and turn it off
Jerry Germansen, Associate Broker
eXp Realty Arizona