Presentation #319.03 in the session Recent Successes in Dark Skies Preservation: Flagstaff and Beyond (3).
Light pollution is, indeed, a problem for astronomy. It is not, however an astronomy problem. It is a safety, health, energy, and, above all, environment problem. Since its inception in 2012, the Mountains of Stars program has successfully utilized astronomy as a means to engage the public with environmental issues. We have partnered with several conservation groups, including the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), the nation’s oldest such organization. A number of achievements have been made through that partnership: 100,000 acres of dark sky space in Maine has been preserved as an IDA-designated international dark sky park; over 70,000 members of the public have been engaged in our programming; over 500 outdoor guides, nature educators, and AMC volunteers have been trained, a feature film (Defending the Dark) has been produced, and outdoor lighting has been replaced with dark sky compatible fixtures at several large AMC facilities. We have succeeded in making environmentally-suitable lighting a major component of AMC conservation messaging. Environmental and conservation organizations have large memberships and substantial budgets, as well as communication pathways – the keys to reaching and affecting large portions of the public with light pollution information.