If the weather would cooperate I would be happily posting on how and where to see the lineup of planets that should be spectacular for the next few weeks. Mars is a opposition and around 9:00 or 10:00 PM if you were someplace with a good view of the horizon from the east, south and west you could see all five naked-eye visible planets – Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury.
As the skies start to dry out later this summer and the nights get longer (Yeah!) its a good time to remember that light pollution is something we can all help reduce. The text below is a good summary of the steps we can all take and will appear in future community association (CA) and BMP publications:
Outdoor Lighting at Balsam Mountain Preserve
The CA board would like to remind everyone to take steps to protect our night skies from light pollution. Our wildlife and folks who enjoy viewing the night sky will appreciate your efforts. Nocturnal animals sleep during the day and are active at night. Light pollution radically alters their nighttime environment by turning night into day. Lighting that emits too much light or shines when and where it’s not needed is wasteful. Wasting energy has huge economic and environmental consequences.
For new home construction, the Balsam Mountain Preserve Habitat Review Guidelines requires that “Outdoor lighting should be limited, and light cast should be immediate to the home in order to limit light pollution, preserve quality of night sky viewing and reduce lighting impacts on nocturnal wildlife, vegetation and neighboring homes.” It also requires outdoor lighting fixtures that have a cut-off angle of 45 degrees or less. Fixtures that are full cut-off are recommended. For a list of vendors and fixtures that meet this requirement please visit the International Dark Sky Association web site at http://darksky.org.
For existing home owners, please take steps to only utilize outdoor lighting only when necessary. Exterior and driveway lighting turned on while you are away in the evening should be turned off when you return or no later than 11:00 PM. Outdoor lights should never be left on all night or when homeowners are not in resident. Outdoor lights on timers may be helpful when you are on the mountain but should be turned off or unplugged when you leave.
Balsam Mountain Preserve is a gated community and outdoor lighting in general is of little use as a crime deterrent. Numerous studies have shown that homes with all night outdoor lighting are more likely to be targets of crime than those with no outdoor lights.