As the population of Virginia increases, more houses are built in isolated valleys... and in many cases, mercury vapor security lights are placed on a pole near the house. In urban settings, lights on streets, in shopping centers, and across developments block the nightime view of stars. Only during major power failures (blackouts) do residents in urbanized areas get to see the Big Dipper, or the Milky Way.
Sky Meadows State Park has recognized that it has a natural asset valued by Northern Virginians - a dark sky where stars are visible. The state park sponsors special astronomy programs, and offers a perspective on the natural world just as valuable as hikes along the Appalachian Trail. Some communities, such as Charlottesville, are implementing "dark sky" ordinances that require shields on lights so the illumination is directed towards the ground.