Our Ancient Ties to the Night Sky

Crystal White
Special Projects Coordinator, Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks

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“I grew up looking at a dark night sky. I cannot imagine living on this Earth without a view of the night sky. I want to do everything I can to make sure that I can always hold this connection to the night sky and preserve it for this and future generations.”
– Crystal White

An Ancient Rhythm

During the spring, summer, and fall, I spend a lot of time sleeping out under the stars. Sometimes these treks take me to remote locations where the sky seems untouched by artificial light. It is on those nights I am reminded of what the night sky was like just a mere two hundred years ago, before artificial light was so prevalent.

To sit by an archaeological site under the new moon and imagine living there, navigating by stars and constellation at night to avoid the extreme daytime temperatures fills my mind. I imagine watching the patterns of the spring, summer, fall, and winter sun and moon to decide when to plant crops and when to harvest them. This flow has been etched into rock by our ancestors as a guide for those listening to this ancient rhythm.

The Human Biorhythm

Our biorhythms are linked to these ancient patterns through controlling hormone production, staying disease free, and preventing many sleep and behavioral disorders. Adhering to these rhythms protects us from these life altering conditions. With the electrification of the world, we changed our nocturnal behaviors as humans. Many of us work night shifts or use home computers and electronics, working well into the night when our bodies should be resting, recovering, rebuilding, and resetting after our active days.

This recovery and reset are crucial to our physical and mental health. Doctors are trying to understand how we can best mitigate our switch to night time activity.
There are many small adjustments we can make to our living situations to minimize these changes in lifestyle.

Simple Changes

One simple change would be to remove all electronic devices from our bedrooms. We are less likely to look at a television or cell phone screen if we must get out of bed to do so. It also helps to place warm colored bulbs in all lights that may be turned on at night (e.g. bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen lights).
You can even help your neighbors out by switching off any exterior lights when not needed or placing them on a sensor or timer, installing fully shielded fixtures, using bulbs under 3000 K (warm colored), and making sure your exterior lights do not cross your property lines.

Protectors of Natural Darkness

As we all try to better understand the effects of artificial light at night to our bodies, and the ecosystems we surround, small adjustments can make a big difference in your own lives. You may find yourself resting more peacefully. Your neighbor may thank you for taking care of the light that has been glaring into their bedroom window at night. Even if none of these things happen, it will make you a protector of natural darkness and someone to admire in my eyes.

Let’s go dark!

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