It’s Dark Sky Week in Rapid City

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 5:04 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The night sky in Rapid City, with its surrounding Black Hills and Badlands National Park gives residents and visitors the unusual opportunity to view the Milky Way and our seasonal constellations with a clarity that few around the globe are able to see.

Mayor Steve Allender proclaimed April 5 through April 12 as ‘Dark Sky Week’ in Rapid City. The idea is to encourage people to celebrate the sky and reduce light pollution.

In honor of Dark Sky Week, Rapid City will observe seven days of Lights Out, keeping street lights off in the City’s downtown core every night from sunset until approximately 9:30 p.m.

Most of us are familiar with air, water, and land pollution, but have limited exposure to the negative effects of light pollution. When we imagine light pollution we picture large metropolitan cities that “never sleep.”

But any inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light – known as light pollution – can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife and our climate. Components of light pollution include:

  • Glare – excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort
  • Sky-glow – brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas
  • Light trespass – light falling where it is not intended or needed
  • Clutter – bright, confusing and excessive groupings of light sources

Light pollution is a side effect of industrial civilization. Its sources include building exterior and interior lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights, and illuminated sporting venues.

The Rapid City Sustainability Committee and the local International Dark Sky Chapter have hosted local lights out events in the community since 2016.

A downtown banner on St. Joseph Street is promoting Dark Sky Week and encouraging the public to participate in this healthy chance to see the sky.

Mayor Allender encourages residents, businesses, visitors, employees and neighbors of Rapid City “to celebrate the night sky and the natural nocturnal environment” and to “learn about responsible lighting practices that prevent or reduce light pollution and that protect the natural qualities of the night for the good of people, wildlife, ecosystems and climate.”

“The experience of standing beneath a starry night sky inspires feelings of wonder and awe, and encourages a growing interest in science and nature, especially among young people within the community of Rapid City.”

Dark Sky advocates point to the impact light pollution can have on creating widespread sky-glow that can affect the natural skyscapes of areas such as Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, the Black Hills National Forest, Hidden Valley Observatory and other areas of the Black Hills region.

The next time a visitor asks you about Rapid City’s nightlife, don’t forget to tell them about our night skies that are full of the light from distant stars and our unbeatable views of the galaxy.

Keep an eye out for the Super Pink Moon that will be full on April, 26. It’s 7% bigger, 15% brighter and definitely more colorful than even our regular full moons.

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