Dark Sacred Night

Jared Flesher’s “Dark Sacred Night,” is a short documentary about the rapidly increasing problem of light pollution. Dark skies are threatened or endangered depending on where you are on the planet.

More than 80 percent of the world’s population, and 99 percent of Americans and Europeans, now live under light-polluted skies. Many people live and die without ever seeing the Milky Way. 

Princeton University astrophysicist Gaspar Bakos wants to change that. He is one of a growing number of experts championing simple, commonsense changes to outdoor lighting that can dramatically reduce light pollution. 

As Bakos teaches, light pollution is a problem that impacts far more than astronomical research and stargazers. New studies show that excessive amounts of outdoor lighting contribute to a range of human health problems, squander energy, and have a dramatic negative impact on wildlife, particularly birds and insects. 

Bakos’s approach is to promote change one streetlight at a time. Simple solutions to light pollution can be summed up in a few words: make lights dimmer, shield lights so they only shine downward, and use warm-colored lightbulbs. 

In Princeton, New Jersey, where Bakos lives and works, he dreams of a park set aside for dark sky viewing, where all surrounding lights are muted and properly shielded. By setting a good example, he hopes other communities will be inspired to do the same. 

There are two chances to see the film this month:

On March 26 in Asbury Park, “Dark Sacred Night” premieres at the Garden State Film Festival. The film is part of a Sunday afternoon block of environmental documentaries, including one about how climate change is impacting New Jersey farmers. Tickets are $18.

On March 29 in Princeton, “Dark Sacred Night” screens at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with astrophysicist Gaspar Bakos and an open discussion about light pollution in New Jersey. The screening is free and open to the public.”Dark Sacred Night” is a special storytelling film project of the Princeton University Office of Sustainability.

Crossposted at Endangered New Jersey

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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