Light Pollution


Light Pollution

Light pollution is a growing problem that is affecting communities around the world. The excessive and unnecessary use of artificial light is causing unwanted brightness and glare in the night sky, leading to a range of negative impacts on the environment. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why we need to reduce light pollution and the benefits that it can bring to our communities.

Community Character

One of the primary reasons to reduce light pollution is that it can have a significant impact on the character of our communities. The night sky is a beautiful and awe-inspiring sight, and it has been an essential part of human culture for thousands of years. However, excessive artificial light can obscure the stars and constellations, robbing us of the opportunity to experience the wonder of a dark night sky. This is particularly true in urban and suburban areas, where the prevalence of streetlights, advertising lights, and other types of artificial illumination can create a permanent haze of light pollution.


Light pollution can also have a significant impact on wildlife. Many animals rely on natural darkness for survival, and the presence of excessive artificial light can disrupt their natural behavior patterns. For example, sea turtles rely on moonlight and starlight to navigate when they hatch and return to the ocean. However, bright artificial lights near the beach can disorient them, leading them to head in the wrong direction and die. Similarly, many species of birds use the stars to navigate during migration, and bright city lights can confuse and disorient them, causing them to collide with buildings.

Human Health

Another important reason to reduce light pollution is the impact that it can have on human health. Exposure to artificial light at night can disrupt our circadian rhythms, leading to a range of health problems such as sleep disorders, depression, and an increased risk of cancer. It can also create a sense of disorientation, as the constant presence of light can make it difficult for our brains to distinguish between day and night. This can be particularly problematic in urban areas, where bright lights can create a perpetual sense of daylight, even in the middle of the night.

Public Safety

Light pollution can also impact public safety. Bright lights can temporarily blind drivers and pedestrians, making it more difficult for them to navigate at night. In addition, the creation of dark shadows caused by bright lights can be used by criminals to hide and commit crimes. Reducing light pollution can, therefore, enhance public safety and make our communities more secure.

Wasted Energy

Finally, reducing light pollution is an important step in reducing our energy consumption and protecting the environment. Artificial light requires energy to produce, and much of this energy is wasted. This is because many lights are placed in areas where they are not needed, such as empty parking lots or unoccupied buildings. By reducing light pollution, we can reduce our energy consumption and help combat climate change.

In conclusion, light pollution is a growing problem that is affecting communities around the world. It can have a significant impact on community character, wildlife, human health, public safety, and energy consumption. Reducing light pollution is an important step that we can all take to protect our environment and enhance the quality of life for ourselves and future generations. Whether it is by using low-energy lighting, reducing the number of lights used in public areas, or simply turning off unnecessary lights, we can all play a role in reducing light pollution and creating a more sustainable and healthy future.

We have began efforts to save our night skies, thanks to the joined effort of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, the Teton Conservation District, 1% for the Tetons, the JH Travel and Tourism Board, Free Roaming Photography, the Teton Photography Group, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, and many private donors we’re trying to help the Town of Jackson and Grand Teton National Park achieve Dark Sky Certification from the International Dark Sky Association. Learn more about our efforts here, and get involved if you can!

Total Solar Eclipse

During the fall of 2017, Jackson was lucky enough to see a total solar eclipse. We were able to see a solar eclipse when the Moon was located directly in a straight line between the Sun and the Earth. an alignment is known as syzygy on August 21st, 2017. Here in Jackson the Moon blocked out the Sun’s light completely, leaving us in its dark shadow known as the umbra. The small area on the Earth that was inside the Umbra is known as the line of totality.

When the Moon completely covered the Sun here in Jackson, there was about two minutes and seventeen seconds of totality. The rest of North America was able to view a partial eclipse, this partial shadow is known as the penumbra. The total solar eclipse of 2017 was special for the folks living in the US because it was visible from the West Coast to the East Coast through 12 States. 

How to View an Eclipse

Even with the Sun partially covered by the Moon, it is still dangerous to look at directly. Looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse can cause solar Retinopathy. In some cases the cells in the retina have been permanently damaged. Regular sunglasses are NOT adequate protection for viewing an eclipse. To view the sun you will need a special pair of glasses. These glasses will block out enough of the light to view the sun safely. Solar eclipse glasses are made with filters that block out more light, Regular sunglasses allow too much light to pass through.

There are some atmospheric changes that take place during a total solar eclipse that can be studied, such as temperature and associated wind speeds. There is some evidence that local weather has been changed by a total solar eclipse. Also, the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible to the unaided eye. Usually that part of the Sun’s atmosphere is obscured by the much brighter photosphere, which is the part of the Sun that we can see with our eyes. Even the most sophisticated instruments astronomers use today to study the corona, called coronagraphs, are unable to get a full view of the corona without the Moon’s assistance during a total solar eclipse.

When is the Next Solar Eclipse?

The next solar eclipse that will be visible from the United States will be October 14 2023. The next  total solar eclipse visible from the United States will be on April 4th 2024. This eclipse will be special because it will be the last time the line of totality passes over the united states until 2044. The line of totality will begin on the south pacific ocean and will pass over Mexico, United States and Canada. 

As we approach the upcoming solar eclipses we will announce any viewing events we might hold so please check back with us. You don’t have to wait for a special event to enjoy the night stars at night. We are always holding public and private stargazing tours. If you have any questions about what we do, comments or anything you’d like to share, please contact us. We want to hear from you!

Stargazing in Jackson hole

Add viewing the universe to your list of things to do in Jackson hole. You’ll leave our programs with a new understanding of the Universe and a sense of how you are connected to the Cosmos.  We offer year-round Private Stargazing and Photography Tours at your convenience. Let us come to your private residence or bring you to a dark sky location within Grand Teton National Park. We’ll set up one of our large telescopes and entertain you and your guests by showing you all that the extraordinary night skies of Jackson Hole have to offer! You’ll get personal attention from our knowledgeable stargazing leaders, bringing the secrets of the universe closer to you and your guests.

Reasons Jackson hole is one of the best places for stargazing

High Elevation

The high elevation in Jackson Hole (6,500ft on the valley floor where we stargaze) means that you’re looking through much less atmosphere than at sea level. That makes the night sky that much clearer!

Big Telescopes

We’ll have a big telescope in use during our stargazing programs. That means we can collect a ton of light from distant objects, allowing you to be able to see galaxies millions of light years away!

Predictable Weather

The low humidity and predictable weather in Jackson Hole, especially in the summer, means that we have lots of clear night skies. We rarely have to cancel a stargazing program in the summer because of bad weather.

Dark Skies

Jackson Hole, the valley where the town of Jackson resides, is mostly protected, undeveloped public land. That means there is relatively little light pollution, allowing you to see thousands of stars on moonless nights, the arms of the Milky Way Galaxy and so much more.

Stargazing Leaders

Wyoming Stargazing employs knowledgeable and enthusiastic astronomy educators for our Stargazing Leaders. That means they not only have a huge amount of knowledge of the night sky, but are also very good at explaining the complicated details about what you are looking at.

The proceeds from our private stargazing programs allow us to offer inexpensive programming in public schools, to offer free public programs throughout our community, and to Save Our Night Skies. We strongly recommend booking your stargazing program at the beginning of your trip. That way if we need to reschedule because of bad weather we have a better opportunity to do so. We encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have

Ask Dr. Sam and Astro-BS

Back by popular demand, Ask Dr. Sam, will start up again next Tuesday from 4:30pm-5:30pm MDT every week. It’s a great opportunity for students and their parents to have the opportunity to ask all their burning questions to our Founder and Executive Director Dr. Sam. Get charged up for some great some good dinner time conversation every Tuesday with Ask Dr. Sam!

We also have a new offering that we’re calling Astro-BS. Every other Thursday at noon you can join the Wyoming Stargazing Team over lunch via zoom or on our YouTube Channel to chat about the latest astronomical discoveries and technological innovations during our lunch hour. We hope to see you there!

Virtual Stargazing with Brian Keating and Deep Astronomy!

Last Thrusday Dr. Sam and Dr. Mike were invited to do a Virtual Stargazing Program with Astronomy Prof. Brian Keating and Tony Darnell of Deep Astronomy. We had a bit of technical diffuclties at the beginning, but we ended up having a great program over all. You can watch the entire program by clicking on the following YouTube link.

We’d also greatly appreciate it if you clicked here and subscribed to the Wyoming Stargazing YouTube Channel! Our goal is to have over 1,000 subscribers.

The Northern Lights – Looking Up Episode #2

This week’s episode of Looking Up we’re talking all about the Northern Lights. We’ll be discussing the science behind the Aurora, as well as the significance of the Northern Lights throughout history. Tune in and find out when you’ll be able to see this light show next.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Aurora borealis or are itching for more stunning photos, head on over to our Instagram and Facebook. Check out more of our amazing snapshots we’ve taken on stargazing programs in Jackson, Wyoming.

Looking Up – Episode #2 The Northern Lights

This week's episode of Looking Up is all about the Northern Lights!

Posted by Wyoming Stargazing on Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Behind the Telescope – Our Work in Jackson, Wyoming

Curious about who we are and what we do? Here’s just a few of the awesome things we’re doing at Wyoming Stargazing in Jackson, Wyoming.

Wyoming Stargazing in Jackson, Wyoming

Curious about who we are and what we do? Here's just a few of the awesome things we're doing at Wyoming Stargazing in Jackson, Wyoming.Music:

Posted by Wyoming Stargazing on Friday, July 17, 2020


Comet NEOWISE is awesome!!!

Comet NEOWISE has turned out to be the most charismatic comet in the last decade. Over the next few nights it’s going to get higher and higher in the sky. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. It’s easily visible to the naked eye from Jackson and from most of the Northern Hemisphere by about 10pm MDT on the western horizon. Check out this link to see charts of how to find the comet in the sky tonight.

To find it, start by finding the Big Dipper. Locate the two stars on the far side of the “bucket” away from the “handle”, which are called the pointer stars. Then, draw a line from the right hand pointer star down to the horizon. Look back up from the horizon about the distance of one or two pointer fingers held as arm’s length.

You should see a faint fuzzy spot with the unaided eye. Using a pair of binoculars the long extended tail of the comet is really lovely to see. The comet is named after the NASA satellite that discovered it. Comet NEOWISE is one of the brightest comets visible from Jackson in the last decade. Enjoy!

Here are a couple pictures that we took the other night.

Looking Up – A new version of an old favorite

This week, we’re learning all about comets!

Wyoming Stargazing is excited to have a new version of a classic program for you! If you’ve been following Wyoming Stargazing for a while, you might remember our radio program called Looking Up that was featured on Jackson’s local radio station, KHOL.

We’ve taken the radio version of Looking Up, photos and videos from our own gallery and other reputable astronomy sources, and created a new visual experience!

This week’s episode is all about comets. Tune in every #throwbackthursday for our re-imagined episodes of Looking Up.

Looking Up- Comets

Wyoming Stargazing is excited to have a new version of a classic program for you! If you've been following Wyoming Stargazing for a while, you might remember our radio program called Looking Up that was featured on Jackson's local radio station, KHOL.We've taken the radio version of Looking Up, photos and videos from our own gallery and other reputable astronomy sources, and created a new visual experience.This week's episode is all about comets. Tune in every #throwbackthursday for our re-imagined episodes of Looking Up. Learn about about the science behind comets, their place throughout history, and some astronomical current events.

Posted by Wyoming Stargazing on Thursday, June 25, 2020
Learn about about the science behind comets, their place throughout history, and some astronomical current events

The World Above the Tetons | Speaker Series 2020

We are honored to introduce this week’s speaker – Kelly Lively. 

Idaho National Laboratory is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories. With roughly 5,000 scientists, engineers and support personnel, the lab also stands as one of Idaho’s largest employers. At INL’s three primary facility areas, researchers perform work in support of DOE’s mission to “discover the solutions to power and secure America’s future.” More specifically, INL is the center of nuclear energy research and development.

Kelly Lively is the Radioisotope Power Systems Department Manager at Idaho National Laboratory. She has served as the Department Manager since 2007; She also serves as the INL Project Manager for NASA Space Missions. Most recently, she managed the INL team to provide a Radioisotope Power System for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission; powering a land rover named Perseverance launching in July 2020, for an eight-month journey to Mars. She holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Idaho State University (1998).

INL works with other national labs and industry to enable deep-space, scientific exploration, including this summer’s launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. Kelly’s primary work is managing a team of engineers and technicians to fuel, test and deliver Radioisotope Power Systems. These systems convert the heat generated by the decay of plutonium oxide fuel into electrical energy. Kelly will be presenting information on contributions by the Space Nuclear Power and Isotope Technologies Division, located at INL’s Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC).

Want to learn more about Radioisotope Power Systems, INL, and more of Kelly Lively’s incredible work? Don’t forget to register for The World Above the Tetons Speaker Series- happening this Wednesday 6/24 at 7PM (MT).