Light Pollution Blocks Stars and also a Danger to Your Health

On a beautiful clear night, you might enjoy going out and look up at the stars but you may not be seeing as many stars as you could be.

It's called light pollution, it's an effect caused by bright lights blocking out the view of the night sky.

You may think that's only a big city problem but it's not.

Shanil Virani is the director of the JMU Planetarium.
He is expressing his concern about there being too many lights.
Virani says, "If you've ever seen the earth at night you are seeing lights from cities, being sent directly up. It's a waste of money, it's a waste of energy, and by many studies it amounts to several billion dollars worth of wasted light. "

Even here in the Valley, light pollution can be an issue and it has more effects than just the view of the night sky.

According to the American Medical Association, direct health effects of night time lighting include suppression of melatonin, which can disrupt your sleep. This can in turn increase the cancer risk, specifically breast cancer.

The research isn't fully proven yet, but according to several medical journals, the link is there and the evidence is increasing.

Virani says, "That's why we should care, and that's why we should do something."

There is a simple remedy to fix light pollution.

"Focus the light on the ground, where we need it for our safety and security, and not up where we don't need it", says Virani.

"The fix is easy, you just turn off the lights, and if you need the lights, cover them."

Virani wants everyone to understand that it's not just a big city problem, and that everyone is affected by light pollution.

The kind of lighting that doesn't enhance light pollution are lights that are covered on the top, and shine the light at the ground, as in the lights shown in the image above.

To help fix light pollution, you want to light directed down, not up at the sky.

If you want to capture the full effect of the night sky, you can also head out to the JMU Planatarium.

Starting this Saturday, August 31st, they resume their free public shows and they also host star parties.

For details or dates, just go to and click the find it button for the link. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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