The Big Dipper hangs in the sky over Tuckerman Ravine in this moonlit time-exposure made early March 31, 2013, on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.
The Big Dipper hangs in the sky over Tuckerman Ravine in this moonlit time-exposure made early March 31, 2013, on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. (Associated Press)

When April invites us outdoors to be a part of the awakening of plants and animals, we are stirred to engage with and care for our environment. On the universal level, there's Earth Day on April 22. Less well-known is that April is Global Astronomy Month (GAM).

In 2003, a Virginia high school student, Jennifer Barlow, founded what was to become International Dark Sky Week as part of Global Astronomy Month. Dark Sky Week begins today.

Sky & Telescope magazine interviewed Barlow. In her words, "We have laws passed [to prohibit] the contamination of our water and air. What about our starry skies?"

She continued, "Most of us have forgotten the legacy of the night sky as it seems to fade away behind the blanket of light pollution. The universe is an important part of our history that should not be forgotten The first and foremost greatest thing to me that cannot be seen under light-polluted skies is the Sagittarius Arm of our Milky Way galaxy."

Beginning today, we are called upon to act to preserve the ever vulnerable dark sky areas of the Berkshires -- where the Milky Way can be enjoyed -- and to help change or eliminate the poorly designed or excessive outdoor lighting that pollutes the view of the sky over many homes, towns and villages.


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If you do one thing, go to this website -- www.darksky.org -- to learn easy, effective ways to be involved.

For drawings of good lighting design and outlets where fixtures are available, go to www.darkskysociety.org.

To contact Judy Isacoff, go to www.naturesturn.org