Light Pollution in Virginia

satellite image of lights at night
Global City Lights, from Defense Meteorological Satellite Program

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.

night lights of Virginia, showing concentrations of human settlement
night lights of Virginia, showing concentrations of human settlement
(can you identify the different urban areas of Virginia?)
Source: National Atlas

Links

lights of Norfolk (southeast corner), Richmond, and Northern Virginia reveal the crescent of dense population in Virginia
lights of Norfolk (southeast corner), Richmond, and Northern Virginia reveal the crescent of dense population in Virginia
(Lynchburg is circled in red, Charlottesville in yellow)
Source: NASA, Earth's City Lights


Waste Management in Virginia
Economics of Virginia
Virginia Places