About MeI live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I explore the deeper reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while also trying to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies through photography and video.
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During my trip to the southwestern United States this past fall, one of my destinations was Chaco Culture National Historic Park, or more commonly known as, Chaco Canyon. Turning off the highway overrun these days with traffic for the oil and gas industry, I began the winding journey down the back roads to Chaco Canyon, only to find 15 miles in that the campground was full. An amazing thing about Chaco Canyon is that it’s in the middle of nowhere. A downside to Chaco Canyon is that it’s in the middle of nowhere. The nearest lodging, assuming I wanted to go that route, was over two hours away and I wasn’t quite sure just how far back the oil industry was destroying our beautiful BLM lands, so camping anywhere nearby was out of the question. I pulled out my atlas and found two national monuments still in northwestern New Mexico, but neither of them terribly close, either being a good bet for camping though.
Juniper log resting below a fiery sunrise near Highway 191 in southern Wyoming
I’m currently catching up my connected life in Moab, Utah where I’m having a delicious sandwich at Pantele’s Desert Deli (thanks for the recommendation, Bret!), downloading photos, and going through emails. Thus far, the trip has been great! My only regret is not getting a quick interview from a guy named Steven that I met in Dinosaur National Monument when he told me about someone going door-to-door in Grand Juction, Colorado offering to pay residents to put up shielded lighting and having the vast majority of them refuse, even though it came out of his pocket and would cost them nothing. Lesson learned. Thanks for the great conversation regardless, Steven and Bill!
Stars and night sky spin above dead juniper tree, southern Wyoming
After a late start on Tuesday, I found myself driving south along Highway 191 in southern Utah, a spectacular high desert region blanketed with juniper trees with the occasional bare spot exposing millions of years of erosion along ancient seabeds in the form of badlands.
I recently completed work on my first film, Reclaiming the Night: Preserving the Dark Skies of Jackson Hole. The short film, at just over 12 minutes, discusses the issue of light pollution, how it negatively affects Jackson Hole and beyond, the vast amount of wasted energy spent on it, and how Jackson Hole can benefit exponentially from embracing the night skies, something they have thus far failed to do as demonstrated in the film, despite it being a high priority in the Comprehensive Plan.
The reduction of light pollution is a movement gaining enormous momentum around the world and Jackson has the potential to receive tremendous economic gain by encouraging both residential and commercial areas to begin turning out the lights.
On Monday, October 6th, 2014, I gave a TEDxJacksonHole talk on the subject of light pollution titled, Restoring the Night Sky for a Healthier Future. The talk discussed my personal experience and growing interest in light pollution, the facts and science behind how it affects each and every one us and the ecosystems we live in, and why a dark night sky is so essential and important in creating a spiritual connection to both our own species, and the infinite space around us.
On April 28th of 2014, I gave a much lengthier talk that was specific to Jackson Hole, Wyoming (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK6VmG4rYME). Though many similar concepts were shared, the TEDx talk was significantly shorter and much more polished, refined, and to the point to make it worthy of the TED name.
Milky Way arching across the night sky with airglow above a tent, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming
I haven’t been updating this blog much, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I’m currently wrapping up a video on light pollution in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area, plotting a large road trip around the southwest for a follow-up video covering the region’s dark skies, and finally, making plans with my girlfriend to hike the Hayduke Trail, an 800-mile trail stretching from Arches National Park to Zion National Park with a detour through the Grand Canyon.What Is Light Pollution?
The upcoming video, which I’m hoping to have ready by the end of the summer, will cover the basics of light pollution, how it affects Jackson Hole, some potential solutions, and the importance of the night sky to the area. It’s a personal project that I began upon teaming up with Wyoming Stargazing, whose ultimate goal at the moment is to construct an observatory and planetarium right here in Jackson, Wyoming.
A trailer for Reclaiming the Night, following Wyoming Stargazing’s mission to build an observatory and planetarium in Jackson, Wyoming
One of western culture’s greatest collective fear is the fear of the dark. This fear has been with humanity longer than any written records, and countless stories and myths were created to ignorantly perpetuate that fear. Well into today, that irrational perpetuation is continued through the news outlets, repeatedly reporting of violent crimes taking place from people lurking in the shadows, or psychotic individuals in extremely remote places waiting for someone to park in just the wrong spot. A fear of the big, bad wolf or of the ever-menacing grizzly bear insure that we keep away from nature at night as well, and yet, if we’re to have truly successful night shots, these are the places we need to be to do so.