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Zach Grether

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2013 Earth & Sky Photo Contest - 2nd AND 4th Place in Against the Lights Category

I am beyond excited to announce that out of the 714 entries, my Canyon Lake and Roosevelt Lake Bridge images were recognized as 2 of the 10 winners in the prestigious international 2013 Earth & Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance. Click through to the official announcement of all of the winners and watch the extremely impressive video slideshow of the best images from the contest. If you like the nightscape images I've been sharing, you're going to love this video.

To see more of my work, go to
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A very informative post from one of my mentors, +Brad Goldpaint, about what you can do to help improve, and hopefully save, our dark skies.
Nomadic Dreams

Deep within the Sierra Nevada Range, along the John Muir Trail, lies one of my favorite high elevation alpine lakes. Thousand Island Lake is roughly 10,000 feet above sea level and is one of the darkest areas I've had the pleasure of capturing the night sky. Over 70 miles away from the nearest city, light pollution is becoming an issue. The city lights from Fresno have already started to obstruct the visibility of the night sky and it's only going to get worse. 

Light Pollution and Energy Waste

Unused lights left on over night, such as those in office buildings, waste energy, for no reason. This type of illumination contributes to the general sky glow of the city as well as wasting energy. Being dark sky friendly does not mean ‘no light.’ It means using the light that you need for a particular task in the most efficient manner possible.

Light shining into the sky creates glare and is not being used effectively. Using fully shielded lighting (i.e. downward facing light that does not emit above the horizontal) 100% of the energy being put into the light is being put and used where it is needed, on the ground. This means the light on the ground will be that much brighter and you can use fewer lights at lower wattages to achieve the same illumination, without glare, you got while using unshielded lighting.

An estimated 30% of street lighting is wasted light; defined as light that shines up into the sky where it does no good. Based on this number, it is estimated that in the United States alone 22,000 gigawatt-hours a year are wasted. At a conservative average of $.10 per kilowatt-hour, the cost of that wasted energy is $2.2 billion a year – enough to annually fund a new mission to Mars. In other terms, 3.6 tons of coal or 12.9 million barrels of oil are wasted every year to produce this lost light.

This translates into an unnecessary annual release of over 15.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases – that’s the equivalent to the amount released by seven years of electric usage of all the homes in the U.S.  By simply shielding lights and lowering bulb wattage to a reasonable level the consequences of light pollution could be easily avoided and we would save quite a bit of money that could be useful elsewhere.  

The easy solutions to these problems are:
- shield and lower the wattage of all outdoor lighting: Homeowners, businesses, and cities.
- Use only the light you need to get the job done.
- Use timers, dimmers, and sensors to darken unoccupied areas. Shut off the lights when you can.
- Look for IDA-approved ‘Fixture Seal of Approval’ fixtures at your local stores (Lowe’s has recently started carrying a wide variety of affordable, IDA-approved, dark sky friendly lighting)

The fight to end light pollution begins at your front door.

Learn more about #IDSWeek and the impacts light pollution, the artificial brightening of the night sky, has on safety, wildlife, energy waste, and human health at
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