Light pollution in Lakeland, FL

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Did you know that the starry sky in Lakeland is incredibly unique? Seriously, no two places in the world have the same view of the stars — talk about local. 

The thing is, it’s likely you’ve never gotten to fully appreciate the night sky. For example, if you live in central Lakeland, you probably won’t see:

Zodiacal lights, the cone of light above sunrise + sunset points
Meteor showers, like the Lyrids from Thurs., April 21-Fri., April 22, or the Perseids in August.
The Milky Way, visible as a yellow-orange band of light in the night sky.

In fact, we’re betting the sky at night is light gray or orange, and bright enough to read by. So, are we psychic? Well, maybe — but these are all effects of light pollution

Light?!

Light. You may not think of light as a pollutant, but roughly 118,000 people all pointing lights into Lakeland’s night sky can have a serious effect on natural cycles that rely on light + the stars. Think:

Birds that pathfind using constellations
Insects attracted to light (like a moth to a flame, you could say)
Plants that use light to know when to grow + shed leaves
All creatures (even humans) that rely on day-night cycles for sleep

Even setting aside the ecosystem, it’s hard to argue with the view. (For reference, the South Lake Morton Historic District is an 8 on the Bortle scale.)

Here’s something you won’t expect

This is really good news. Of all the pollution that feels out of our control, light pollution is actually completely reversible. The International Dark Sky Association has resources to help you use artificial light conscientiously — and with International Dark Sky Week from April 22-30, it’s the perfect time to jump in. Here’s some tips to get you started:

Swap harsh, unshielded lights with downward-pointing LEDs in a warm color.
Consider what needs to be lit, and how much.
Support local light pollution policy.
Cure your FOMO by joining the Imperial Polk Astronomical Society from Fri., June 3-Sun., June 5 for Kissimmee Prairie Astronomy Weekend. The group will be hosting celestial viewings after dark.
Can’t wait that long? The Imperial Polk Astronomical Society will be at Bok Tower Gardens on Fri., April 22 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for an Earth Day celebration, including observances of the sun, sunspots, prominences and flares.

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