Outdoor lighting principles hail the dark side

Stargazers evoke conflicting lighting demands

Monday, April 5, 2021

Stargazers could experience a new balance of vivid night skies above and safe wayfinding below on future forays to parks and protected natural areas. The U.S. National Parks Service is teaming with the Illuminating Engineering Society to devise an outdoor lighting standard that supports safety and navigability with minimum infringement on night-sky viewing.

“Staring at the night sky with the Milky Way streaking overhead is a quintessential experience for many national park visitors. Even national parks near urban centres often serve as night sky sanctuaries for those who live in our most populated cities,” notes Karen Trevino, chief steward of natural sounds and night skies with the National Parks Service.

While the needs of U.S. national parks are the focus of the work, it’s expected that operators of camps, resorts and other recreational venues in rural and wildland areas will use the resulting standard and best practices for light installations in interface zones between higher-traffic public areas and remote sites and vistas.

“This partnership will promote a shared understanding of the importance of the natural night sky and the effects of light on national park resources and values including wildlife, cultural resources and values, wilderness character, and visitor experience and enjoyment of these same resources,” says Brian Liebel, director of standards and research with the Illuminating Engineering Society.

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