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Science Behind the Scenery Program Focuses on Night Skies

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Date: August 1, 2007
Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363

It is difficult to believe at first, how could something so simple and harmless as light be considered a pollutant? After all, the day is full of light, so how could a little light at night be so bad? The answer is simply that artificial light at night is out of place, so even a small amount of light can greatly change the essence of night. Join Dr. Tyler Nordgren as he discusses the National Park Service’s Night Sky Program during the Science Behind the Scenery Series at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 9, at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Astronomers were first to sound the alarm as the view of the night sky through telescopes and unaided eyes literally disappeared while city lights grew brighter. Stray light increases the brightness of the night sky making space appear light gray or pale yellow, and causing stars and faint objects to be lost by reduced contrast. Light pollution also prevents the human eye from fully dark–adapting, whether you are outside looking at the night sky or trying to get sleep with a light shining in your window.

National parks are protective harbors for some of the last remaining dark skies in this country. The National Park Service has come to embrace night skies as one of the many scenic vistas the agency is a steward of. It is essential to keeping a park whole and touches on almost every aspect that is important to us, from sustainability to stargazers, and animals to ancient ruins. 

The program is free and open to the public. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park’s information office at (970) 586-1206.

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