Archive for December, 2012

Once dark, now too bright!

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

It is written, in the beginning… the earth was with darkness, but by the 20th century, urbanization and electrification of the world brought the dawn of light pollution that now threatens our night skies, ecosystems, health, astronomy, and our enjoyment of the stars. (Read about environmental consequences of night lighting in Daniel J. Rozell’s article, “Night Lights – Too Much of a Good Thing?“)

(Photo credit: NASA, NOAA, Earthlights, Wikimedia Commons)

We arrived in the Anza-Borrego Desert to celebrate the winter holidays and had just an hour to set up before we were enveloped by darkness and beautiful stars twinkling in the desert night sky. (Click on the image below)

Many winter festivals and holidays incorporate elements of light as part of the observances and celebrations.  During the early evenings, we lit our outdoor Christmas tree that Larry made from homegrown bamboo.

It lit up the trailer as well, but not enough to obscure the stars.

While writing this post, I became aware of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a non-profit organization with the stated mission of “fighting to preserve the night”.  The IDA is based in Tucson, a city famous for having a strong lighting ordinance to ensure that people use night sky friendly lights.  Their website provides guidelines for outdoor lighting to preserve the night sky and has designated Borrego Springs, California, as one of four International Dark Sky Communities that have met and exceeded their requirements.

The extent of the worldwide expanding communities that emit light at night is revealed in this NASA-NOAA Satellite View of Earth at Night and this Time Lapse View From Space.  According to the IDA, NASA’s new ‘Black Marble’ images of nighttime Earth “reveal that our globe is heavily littered with excessive and wasteful lighting that produces light pollution”.

Earlier this year, writer/photographer Bert Gildart wrote in his article, “The Challenge of Dark Skies“, “Because light pollution is so pervasive, areas of the country endowed with a Dark Sky Status should be celebrated.”  Bert concludes by saying, “Help reduce light pollution and preserve areas blessed with a Dark Sky Status by using your night images to celebrate and call attention to these ‘vanishing’ islands.”

So I join in the celebration of the night sky by presenting the images above, but I must point out that the stars on the horizon are obscured, not by the sunset, but by the sky glow produced by the city of El Centro, 60 miles away!

See and listen to the YouTube video, “Arthur C. Clarke on Light Pollution“.

And, until your next opportunity to see a clear night sky full of twinkling stars, enjoy the breathtaking wonder of the night skies as seen in the YouTube videos, “Plains Milky Way” and “Yosemite Nature Notes – 19- Night Skies 1080p“.

To have and have another celebration… of life!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

The other (political) party was still reeling, but our party was just getting started as we celebrated the first night of Hanukkah on the eve of our departure for a five night stay in the Anza-Borrego Desert and light up the dark nights with celebrations of Hanukkah, winter solstice, Christmas, New Year, and especially life, which seems so vulnerable, precious, and brief.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Dedication and the Festival of Lights, is a wonderful celebration of freedom, and is observed by lighting the candles of the Hanukiah and by eating food that is fried or baked in oil.  For the first night of this eight-day celebration, Larry made egg rolls that were dipped in apricot Sriracha sauce and sufganiyot that were injected with cherry/raspberry/blood orange jam and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

For this trip, Larry made a bamboo Christmas tree and added lights and decorations topped by a red star given to us by our good friends Bert and Janie.  We also brought along one of our hummingbird feeders from home.

Good reading material, including a new book, To Have And Have Another, by Philip Greene, was brought along.  Our very nice neighbor Donna gave us a Corgi Christmas ornament (seen below).

As we continued our celebrations, Anna’s Hummingbirds were having a festive time with our feeder.

For the 5th night of Hanukkah, Larry made latkes and used our tire infrared thermometer to check the temperature of the cooking oil!

He says that using chopsticks was easier than tongs to turn over the latkes.

 

At night our desert campsite was lit up by our Hanukiah and Christmas tree.

So we say to our friends, “Happy Holidays, Good Health, and Peace!”

May we “light one candle… and let it shine through our love and our tears” (Peter, Paul and Mary)

About the Author

BILL, along with partner, Larry, were first-time RV'ers when they purchased their custom-ordered 23' 2007 Airstream Safari SE. Bill (a retired RN) and Larry (a retired pediatric Occupational Therapist) enjoy bringing history alive in the area of San Diego, CA.