Leelanau Dark Sky Committee working to reclaim our night sky

Stars Rain over Port Oneida by Heather Higham

Stars Rain over Port Oneida by Heather Higham

The Traverse City Record-Eagle shares how dark sky advocates are working to reclaim Leelanau Peninsula’s night sky heritage in 2022:

“Our mission is to preserve the natural night sky which promotes human health, and to make people aware that artificial light has an effect on our world, wildlife, birds and even plants,” said Phyllis Rebori, co-chair for Leelanau Energy’s Dark Sky Committee.

The 13-member all-volunteer group is a standing committee of Leelanau Energy, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting renewable, efficient energy.

The committee broadens its reach this year from Northport and Leelanau Township to Suttons Bay, Empire, Glen Arbor and other Leelanau Peninsula communities.

Dark Sky Before & After by Leelanau Dark SkiesThe group’s trifecta approach incorporates education, collaboration and inspiration. Initiatives strive to increase understanding of light pollution and how outdoor lighting can enhance safety by reducing glare and directing light where needed — and to awaken people to celestial beauty.

“We can’t go change lights, but we can give people a reason to change their lights,” Rebori said.

She reported that committee outreach will build on what it has achieved since forming in 2018. Collaborating with local government, the group helped secure funding allowing Leelanau Township to replace lighting at the Fire Hall and Township Hall with lighting aligned with dark sky goals.

It was instrumental in aiding the Omena U.S. Post Office in adopting a dark sky-friendly lighting plan and also aided the Village of Northport and Leelanau Township in developing resolutions supporting for Dark Sky Standards.

The committee, members of the International Dark Sky Association, partners with both public and private property owners in reducing light pollution. It aided Tom’s Food Market and Deep’s Corner Store in Northport in upgrading parking lot lighting to new dark sky standards.

Rebori said converting lighting to dark sky standards is not necessarily expensive. It can start by switching from bulbs producing white or blue light to those producing warmer glows. Another step is to install fixtures directing the flow of light to where needed, rather than projecting light outward.

…The committee engaged new night sky fans when it helped launch a library telescope program in 2021. The initiative partnered the committee, Grand Traverse Astronomical Society and Northwestern Michigan College’s Jerry Dobeck, Enerdyne of Suttons Bay, Leelanau Township Library and Suttons Bay Bingham Library. The program provided telescopes for check-out allowing patrons to explore the cosmos.

“The telescope lending program has been so popular in the library and fosters interest in astronomy, enough so that we ordered more books for our collection on the topic,” said Cora Schaeff, interim director for Leelanau Township Library. She added that the heightened interest in night skies resulted in equipment wait lists throughout last summer.

Read more in the Record Eagle & learn more about dark sky preservation and/or volunteer with the Dark Sky Committee on the Leelanau Energy website.

Heather took this photo on Port Oneida back in 2015. See more in her Night Sky gallery on Flickr & for sure view and purchase her work at snaphappygal.com.