Cassiopeia. Orion. The Andromeda Galaxy. Comets. These magnificent astronomical features and events can be seen with the naked eye just by looking up at a very dark night sky. Unfortunately, with the growth of cities and expansion of human developments into previously remote areas, it is becoming more and more difficult to see the splendor of the night sky without major light pollution.
The solution? Dark sky friendly light fixtures.
We have a natural instinct to avoid the dark. However, our fear of the shadows at night has led to a very real problem for the natural world. Light pollution causes Skyglow, the orange miasma which surrounds heavily populated (and therefore heavily illuminated) areas and obscures our view of the night sky. Astronomers, in particular, are concerned by the degrading view of the stars as it severely interferes with their work. Excessively bright outdoor lighting is also detrimental to nocturnal species such as bats, as well as migratory birds and nesting sea turtles.
Communities and towns all over the world are adopting dark sky friendly policies. One such example is Sedona, Arizona, which is a municipality known for its stunning natural red rock formations. Some states, like Hawaii, even have special ordinances in place mandating that lights must be dark sky friendly so as to not interfere with important astronomy work. Places and towns that adhere rigorously to dark sky friendly lighting requirements are designated by the International Dark Sky Association as dark sky communities.
The International Dark Sky Association, founded in 1988 by a group of concerned astronomers, has been working to protect the night sky for present and future generations. They implemented the Fixture Seal of Approval as a way to verify which luminaires on the market are “dark sky compliant” and which ones contribute to the problem. The following requirements are listed by the IDA for a light to be dark sky friendly.
- Only be on when needed
- Only light the area that needs it
- Be no brighter than necessary
- Minimize blue light emissions
- Be fully shielded (pointing downward)
Dark Sky compliant fixtures are described as being “full cutoff” or “fully shielded”. The fixture casings of these luminaires are designed to minimize the amount of light that is distributed upwards. This reduces the amount of ambient light that spills into the night sky, obscuring our view of the stars and interfering with the natural life cycles of nocturnal or migratory animal species.
A Dark Sky Friendly Sports Court
A customer contacted us recently and asked if it would be possible to create a dark sky friendly lighting solution for their sports courts. The courts, which consisted of four tennis courts and four adjacent pickleball courts, needed replacement lighting. The old fixtures were dark sky friendly metal halides which were no longer efficient and needed to be replaced with efficient LED fixtures.
Our solution included running a photometric analysis that determined the best fixture and optics to use. The photometric ended up utilizing 36 APTI 600 LED fixtures with T4M1 optics, which is a wide beam with backlight shielding to prevent uplight. 25 foot poles kept the light directed exactly where it needed to be, as well as the lights pointed directly downward onto the courts. The result was a flawless lighting solution for outdoor sports courts that packed plenty of punch but still remained within the parameters of dark sky friendly requirements.
Other Types of Dark Sky Friendly Lighting
Access Fixtures believes that choosing the right lighting for your outdoor project should include the most environmentally friendly options. We carry a variety of dark sky compliant fixtures and lighting systems, from full cutoff wall packs to dark sky compliant tennis court lighting. Access Fixtures LED fixtures, including 23” outdoor flood lights can be assembled with a forward throw option—ensuring the light reaches every corner without requiring an upward angle. Wildlife friendly amber LED is also available for bollards, high bays, flood lights and more.
Call an Access Fixtures lighting specialist today and find out how you can help protect the night sky by upgrading to the environmentally friendly, dark sky compliant luminaires!
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