JMU Planetarium Hosts ‘Starry Nights Harrisonburg’

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Even though the Milky Way is visible from Earth, many have never seen it - because of light pollution.

Monday night the John C. Wells Planetarium at James Madison University kicked off its first weeklong night sky conference, Starry Nights Harrisonburg. It focuses on the overuse and misuse of light at night.

Organizers say light pollution is easily dismissed, but pointed out how harmful it can be by referencing the dangers to our physical, mental, and spiritual health.

"It's lights that are poorly designed, that have poor light fixtures. So rather than light being on the ground where we need it for safety and security. They're light that bleeds up in all directions including up,” said Shanil Virani, the planetarium’s director.

The goal of the event is to raise awareness and create laws to support good lighting. Tuesday night, author Paul Bogard will give a reading and presentation based on his book “The End of Night: Searching for Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.”

"We're not saying that we shouldn't have light anywhere. We're just saying let's have light where we need it instead of in the sky, or in our eyes, or in our bedrooms,” Bogard said.

The event is open to the public.

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