“It’s Night Time; It’s Supposed to be Dark!” – WFTA Annual Meeting and Presentation Sunday

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

On Sunday, May 1 at 4 pm, Weston Forest & Trail Association, everyone’s favorite nonprofit land stewards, holds its annual meeting, this year with special guest Professor James Lowenthal of Smith College. The subject of Dr. Lowenthal’s presentation is “It’s Night Time; It’s Supposed to Be Dark.” For the third (and hopefully last) year, the annual meeting will be held virtually, after an in-person walk at Ogilvie Town Forest at 2 pm (more on that later). Please note that the Owl is a trustee and executive board member of WFTA and definitely 100% biased (full disclosure).

Where I grew up in northern Westchester County, New York, we were surrounded by open fields and at the top of a hill (everyone’s house got struck by lightning at least once). On summer evenings, the kids would head out to one of the dead-ends (never “cul-de-sacs” in New York, non) playing kickball until darkness fell and we could easily see the Milky Way on a clear night. The stars were so bright that hide and seek in the hay field was less than ideal. Now most children growing up in the US haven’t seen the Milky Way. Ever. All because of light pollution. I would stop and think about that–when did you first see the Milky Way and wonder about other universes?

The Dark Sky Movement is about recognizing that humans, though diurnal, need darkness at night for good health,
and for connecting to wonder and ancient heritage through the starry sky. Other species need a naturally dark night as well. It may seem harmless, but light pollution has far-reaching consequences, from increased rates of serious illnesses in humans, to negative impacts on migration, reproduction, and foraging of virtually every species of flora and fauna that’s been studied.

Fortunately, there are simple fixes for light pollution, and it goes away as soon as we turn the lights down or off, unlike most other kinds of pollution. The Dark-Sky Movement is gaining momentum around the world, including across Massachusetts, where dozens of cities and towns are working to protect the night and where the Dark-Sky Bills are
progressing in the state legislature. There are simple ways to join in without legislation as well–turn off or down your lights at night.

Join Weston Forest & Trail Assssociation and Professsor Lowenthal on Sunday, May 1 at 4 pm to learn about light pollution, its effects and what we can do about it. Please register for the zoom here. A brief WFTA business meeting will be held after the presentation.


About the Presenter

James Lowenthal is the Mary Elizabeth Moses Professor of Astronomy at Smith College in Northampton,
Massachusetts. He received his BS in Physics and Astronomy from Yale University and his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Arizona. He studies the formation and evolution of galaxies, especially actively star-forming galaxies. He served as Vice President of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) from 2016–2019 and serves on the AAS Sustainability Committee and the AAS Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris. He is the Massachusetts Chapter Leader for the International Dark-Sky Association. Lowenthal is active locally, nationally, and internationally in the movement to fight light pollution and protect the naturally dark night sky. He also works to promote action to stop climate change.
You can read more about some of his work here: http://www.science.smith.edu/~jlowenth/lightpollution/lightpollution.html

About Weston Forest & Trail Association (WFTA)

Weston Forest & Trail Association was formed in 1955 to protect and enhance Weston’s treasured open space resources for everyone’s enjoyment. Today WFTA owns more than 200 acres of conservation land and easements and maintain more than 100 miles of trails in the Town of Weston. Read our Mission Statement and find out more about our history.

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