Astronomy, LEDs, The Vanishing Stars

First, let me say that I owe my curiosity about “what’s out there” to the late Gene Roddenberry. His TV show, Star Trek, piqued my interest in all things astronomical. Thank you Gene!

With all of my backyard stargazing sessions searching for deep-sky objects, chasing down comets, observing the planets, volunteering at the Francis Marion University Observatory public viewing sessions for 25 years, plus the 25 years I spent timing lunar occultations and reappearances for the U.S. Naval Observatory and the International Lunar Occultation Centre in Tokyo, last night I logged my 4000th observation.

And that’s not including the four years from 1988 to 1992 I spent counting daily sunspots for the AAVSO. If those are added in, it’s close to 5000 times under the stars — including our very own star! It’s taken 50 years, but I wouldn’t trade all those times under the stars for anything.

All of my backyard observations were done with my naked eyes, Sears & Roebuck 7×50 and 10×50 binoculars, a 60mm refractor, a Criterion 8-inch Dynascope, and my homemade 12.5-inch f/6 Dobsonian reflector.

Not these nights, though.

With light pollution worsening, especially with the blue-rich white light LED’S making it five to ten times worse, many of the objects I observed over the last five decades are just barely, or no longer visible, in a telescope.

All of us stargazers, old and young, need to immediately get the message to our local leaders that LED’S are available with a wavelength of light (spectral power distribution) that mimics that of the High Pressure Sodium fixtures that we’re used to seeing on our streets and parking lots.

Be sure to check out the website of the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition to find out about Phospher-converted Amber (PCALED) and Filtered LED (FLED) – the LED’S with the right wavelength of light at: Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition and their Facebook page.

Humans and nocturnal creatures aren’t designed to live in the LED white-light Perpetual Daylight conditions 24/7/365.

Dark skies for us all,

Frustrated stargazer in SC

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