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Feb 17, 2014

Director's Blog: The First Post!

Welcome to my little area on our brand new website! My plan is to use this area to highlight new discoveries, post exciting events coming to the JMU Planetarium, and to post my monthly column that is published in Harrisonburg Life.

If you haven't already done so, please add your name, email address and postal address to our new mailing list! By doing so, you will be the first to know when new events and new shows are coming to the Planetarium, whether our star party will take place or be cancelled because of weather, and of course to learn when registration opens for our popular summer Space Explorer Camps! You will also receive our yearly planetarium brochure with our Saturday show schedules!

We are losing darkness, losing the night. Here in the Valley, we no longer see the sky the way people saw it even 50 years ago. Does it even matter given our life at the dawn of the 21st century? Every year, we waste $110 billion on artificial light worldwide and produce 750 million unnecessary tons of CO2. New medical studies are demonstrating that light at night disrupts our sleep, confuses our circadian rhythms, and impedes the production of the hormone melatonin. In just one example, studies have shown that women who work the night shift have 1.5 to 2 times the rate of breast cancer then women who don't. Environmentally, our light at night is wreaking havoc. The Audubon Society estimates that in North America alone up to 1 billion birds die each year during their migration season. In short, our ever-increasing use of light at night is wasting our resources, costing cities enormously at a time when budgets are dwindling, and harming our physical, mental, and spiritual health. In the Valley, we are at a crossroads. Our light fixtures are antiquated and need to replaced, and with our next moves we have a tremendous opportunity to be a positive example to the rest of the state and the nation. Now is the ideal time to learn more about the lighting plans of the city of Harrisonburg and the Valley.

STARRY NIGHTS HARRISONBURG is week-long effort organized by Dr. Paul Bogard, author of the critically-acclaimed book The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light, and myself to raise awareness about light pollution both on campus and within the city of Harrisonburg. ALL EVENTS ARE FREE!

Please join us and help spread the word about the unique, one-of-a-kind campaign to talk about light pollution and how we can regain the night sky here in the Valley.

Shanil Virani,

Director of the John C. Wells Planetarium

Starry Nights Harrisonburg Schedule of Events



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