Dear Winchester

Dear Winchester:

You are ruining my view.  Not in the way you’d expect.  I actually can’t see you from where our farm sits, but you affect my view day and night, none-the-less.

You see, it’s your lights.  Years ago when we bought this farm, we choose it for its remote location.  We didn’t want city lights obstructing our view of the stars and the Milky Way at night.  Our view was stunning.  In your artificial light filled nights, you can’t imagine the display of the heavens you are missing, the frequent meteor showers, the mysterious glow of the galaxy.

And then Walmart put in a new store on Route 50 near the Hospital.  This Walmart is open 24 hours a day and they light up that sprawling concrete parking lot all night long.  Since, other business have been built along that area.  Now, to look east at night is reminiscent of seeing the lights coming from Mount Doom in Mordor  in the Lord of the Rings.

During the day, we have a daily reminder of Winchester’s electrical consumption.  Our formerly pristine view is now scarred by enormous power lines that cross the mountain, in response to the increase demands of Winchester and the DC metropolitan area.  You have no idea how many acres of woods and farms were stripped to make way for these lines.  It just hardly seems to be “environmental.”

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There are lots of options for those who wish to conserve energy, and the view for that matter.  Lights for security at night can be switched to motion detector lights that do not have to be constantly on.  Human beings used to live more closely tied to the cycles of daylight, and now many stay up late and start their days even later.  Perhaps living more closely to Benjamin Franklin’s advice:  “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” would apply here, with the added advantage that it might save thousands of miles of electric poles and preserve the views of the stars and night sky.

Dear Winchester, could you please turn off your lights?

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3 Responses to “Dear Winchester”

  1. kevin boles
    February 15, 2014 at 2:13 PM #

    If you want to come a little north some night to look at the stars from an observatory, you are welcome. http://www.nitesky.org is our site and 3/7/14 7:30PM is our next star party. I share your feelings about the demise of our dark skies, although Martinsburg’s glow is much bigger than Winchester’s from my vantage point. If you aren’t already aware of http://www.darksky.org , and I’ll be willing to help in any activism towards helping to preserve the night.

    • Meduseld
      February 17, 2014 at 8:49 AM #

      Heh Kevin! this is really terrific! Thanks for sending me this. I was not aware about any organized reaction to light pollution and would love to do what I can. The obervatory night sounds great, and I will contact your site. Do you mind if I put a link on my blog page?

      • kevin boles
        February 17, 2014 at 10:44 AM #

        You may certainly link to my site! We do public star parties monthly free and offer private parties for $50. After building the observatory, I was feeling very empowered and set a goal for myself of getting a dark sky ordinance in our county to protect the environment around the observatory within 10 years. After going before the county commission and planning commission for 3 yrs, I felt I was being perceived as a fringe element and backed off of my efforts. Thanks for your interest,
        -Kevin

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