I'm very excited by this trend. For astronomers like myself, light pollution is a major problem. Most people are just not able to see the nighttime sky like we used to be able to. And there are indications that light pollution will do nothing but continue to become a bigger problem.
So, it is exciting news that the Village of Homer Glen, Ill., became the world's third International Dark Sky Community on Nov. 21. Located just 25 miles southwest of Chicago, Homer Glen's proximity to a major city presented large challenges, but also valuable opportunities to raise awareness on the negative effects of wasteful outdoor lighting.
The progress in Homer Glen is definitely the groundbreaker for the dark sky movement for the entire state of Illinois. The village passed the state's first stand-alone lighting ordinance in 2007, and its promotion of Earth Hour attracted the support of then-Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn.
Founded in 2001 as a town committed to green principles with a motto of "Community and Nature in Harmony," Homer Glen's stringent dark skies policy is a vital part of their identity.
Outdoor lighting improvements in Homer Glen have influenced lighting plans in other communities, such as Arlington Heights and the Village of Compton Hills. Homer Glen actively participates in Earth Hour and Lights Out! events and has earned the Sustainable Development Award by the Conservation Foundation for their lighting ordinance. Stargazing events are held twice a year, with local astronomy groups providing telescopes to approximately 250 members of the public.
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