Our night sky heritage
The Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation wants to raise everyone's awareness about the proper use of outdoor lighting.
The issue of light pollution exists in many places. A dark sky full of stars is a wonder that everyone enjoys, from the youngest children to the oldest of adults.
If you think about it, the night sky is an important part of our natural heritage. But with excessive outdoor lighting, even the stars are an endangered species. One unshielded light seen a mile away is many times brighter than the brightest stars in the sky. Every one of those lights act collectively to reduce the stars and change Muskoka.
Muskoka is taking action
Muskoka has been a leader in protecting dark skies. Canada's first dark sky park is at Torrence Barrens. Our Township of Lake of Bays has bylaws that require lighting be aimed downward.
Excessive lighting wastes energy too
Outdoor lighting is one of the most inefficient uses of energy today. An outdoor light fixture that scatters light everywhere is like running your air conditioner with the windows open. Don't be a lighting litterbug.
With good lighting, we all win
There are many good reasons for artificial lighting at night. The judicious use of lighting can enhance safety and security. Lighting stairs or a driveway can make sense.
We want people to light the ground, not the sky. Any dock lights should aim down and be used only when needed. The other side of this page offers ideas for good lighting. We hope you will consider them.
Solutions that protect the beauty of our night skies
Use only good lighting. Quality designs are really just common sense approaches to lighting and how you use it. Let's educate ourselves about the principles of good outdoor lighting.
Use less lighting.
Some architects and builders do not think of dark skies when they design structures. The result can be more fixtures than needed or placement of lights in inefficient places.
Glare never helps visibility, but it is a common form of light pollution. If a light is blinding, then it is too bright for the intended purpose. Glare becomes even more difficult as you get older. Solutions include lower wattage bulbs, fixtures that aim down or tinted or opaque glass.
Shine the light down.
It is best to purchase light fixtures that have a covered top or that funnel the light toward the ground area. Water reflects light the most, so apply this thinking to your dock too.
Don't mount lights too high.
Lights that are on high poles or mounted on trees stand out on the horizon and often spill light over neighbours and unintended places.
Use motion sensors or timers.
These features will ensure the light is there when you need it but not all the time. A motion sensor light still offers a sense of security. A timer ensures the light isn't wasting electricity when it is not needed.
Use lower wattage bulbs or dimmers.
We often light areas as if we are trying to water a flower pot with a lawn sprinkler. By reviewing your outdoor lights for brightness, you can save energy costs and save our stars at the same time.
Consider your neighbours.
Conduct a lighting self-assessment of your property for what your neighbours see at night. This includes next door neighbours and those across the water. Just like not playing music that is too loud, we suggest lights that are not too bright.
Thank you for thinking about dark skies. Let's save our stars