the impact of economic and cultural revival on dark skies

the impact of economic and cultural revival on dark skies

the impact of economic and cultural revival on dark skies

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THE IMPACT OF ECONOMICAND CULTURAL REVIVALON DARK SKIESW. SCOTT KARDELCalifornia Institute ong>ofong> Technology / Palomar ObservatoryIn ong>theong> early 1930’s Palomar Mountain was selected as ong>theong> site for ong>theong> California Instituteong>ofong> Technology’s (Caltech) new 200-inch (5.1 meter) telescope. The brighteningskies around Los Angeles ong>andong> Mount Wilson meant that dark skies were a significantfactor in this choice: The lack ong>ofong> people ong>andong> development in ong>theong> area meant that PalomarMountain ong>theong>n competed for ong>theong> darkest ong>ofong> observatory sites.Urbanization ong>ofong> Souong>theong>rn California has resulted in a significant increase in ong>theong>amount ong>ofong> sky glow in ong>theong> area with light intrusion from San Diego ong>andong> oong>theong>r, nearerdevelopments. In ong>theong> 1980s, ong>theong> Observatory ong>andong> Caltech worked with civic groups ong>andong>local governments to pass legislation to enforce low pressure sodium lighting in ong>theong>vicinity ong>ofong> ong>theong> Observatory, ong>andong> to curb ong>theong> growth ong>ofong> light pollution caused by urbong>andong>evelopment ong>andong> expansion.Several Indian tribal long>andong>s surround Palomar Observatory, ong>andong> lack ong>ofong> ong>economicong>development in those areas helped perpetuate dark skies around ong>theong> observatory. Followingong>theong> Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ong>ofong> 1988, however, ong>theong>re has been increasingong>economicong> development in ong>theong> tribal areas. Furong>theong>r expansion followed arrangementsmade in 2004 with ong>theong> State ong>ofong> California to permit more casinos ong>andong> gambling in returnfor tax revenue. This has brought six casinos to ong>theong> Observatory’s front door, with onemore under construction. The casinos bring tremendous financial gain to ong>theong> members ong>ofong>ong>theong> tribes. However increased light pollution from casinos ong>andong> associated developmentsare an increasing concern for astronomers ong>andong> local people used to pristine skies.Each ong>ofong> ong>theong>se casinos is located less than 30 km from ong>theong> Observatory. Althoughfalling within ong>theong> most stringent lighting code areas, local Indian long>andong>s ong>andong> casinos arelegally immune from local lighting ordinances. Neverong>theong>less, we have achieved somesuccess in limiting ong>theong> ong>impactong> ong>ofong> casinos on ong>theong> Observatory, in sensitizing all residentsto ong>theong> environmental ong>andong> ong>culturalong> benefits ong>ofong> preserving dark skies, ong>andong> in continuing toeducate developers about efficient lighting practices.In 1928, George Ellery Hale secured a six million dollar grant from ong>theong> RockefellerInternational Education Board to build “an observatory, including a 200-inch reflectingtelescope.” Eight years later ong>theong> Palomar Observatory was founded. It is owned ong>andong>operated by Caltech, based in Pasadena, California, USA. The Observatory is currentlyhome to six research telescopes which include ong>theong> 5.1-meter (200-inch) Hale Telescope,ong>theong> 1.2-meter (48-inch) Samuel Oschin Schmidt Telescope, ong>theong> Palomar Testbed Interferometer,ong>andong> a 1.5-meter (60-inch) telescope.From 1930 until 1934, various sites were considered for ong>theong> Observatory. PalomarMountain was selected for its clear weaong>theong>r, steady seeing ong>andong> dark skies. Palomar63

The Palomar Observatory’s 5.1 Meter Hale Telescope.Mountain is located in Norong>theong>rn San Diego County, approximately 70 km (45 miles)north ong>ofong> ong>theong> city ong>ofong> San Diego ong>andong> about 160 km (100 miles) from ong>theong> Los Angeles area.Even in ong>theong> 1930s ong>theong> lights from ong>theong> city ong>ofong> Los Angeles were already greatly affectingong>theong> work at ong>theong> Mount Wilson Observatory near Pasadena, California. The lights fromLos Angeles were at that time considered too remote to disturb viewing at Palomar. Atong>theong> time construction began on ong>theong> Hale Telescope, ong>theong> population surrounding Palomarnumbered less than 300,000 people. It was not expected to grow significantly or to causean ong>impactong> on sky brightness.By 1980 ong>theong> population in ong>theong> immediate vicinity ong>ofong> ong>theong> observatory had balloonedto more than two million people. At that time, Caltech began to work with local governmentsto enact legislation to curb ong>theong> growth ong>ofong> light pollution. Ordinances passed bylocal cities ong>andong> counties called for ong>theong> use ong>ofong> low-pressure sodium ong>andong> fully shieldedlighting in ong>theong> vicinity ong>ofong> ong>theong> Observatory. 1 Today, ong>theong> population ong>ofong> ong>theong> region exceedsfive million people. The light pollution laws passed in ong>theong> 1980s allows ong>theong> Observatoryto continue operations under skies that would oong>theong>rwise have become much brighter.Much ong>ofong> ong>theong> long>andong> immediately surrounding ong>theong> Observatory has traditionally beenundeveloped. It includes long>andong>s preserved by ong>theong> United States Forest Service as part ong>ofong>ong>theong> Clevelong>andong> National Forest which covers some 1900 km² (46,000 acres) ong>andong> manyIndian reservations. San Diego County includes 18 Indian reservations—more than anyoong>theong>r county in ong>theong> United States. For many years, long>andong>s held by ong>theong> Indian reservationshave been largely undeveloped ong>andong> ong>economicong>ally depressed. This has changed significantlybringing new developments to ong>theong> Palomar area as a result ong>ofong> ong>theong> Indian GamingRegulatory Act.64

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed into law by ong>theong> United States Congressin 1988. It was enacted to “promote tribal ong>economicong> development, tribal self-sufficiency,ong>andong> strong tribal government” by giving “Indian tribes ong>theong> exclusive right to regulategaming activity on Indian long>andong>s.” 2 The introduction ong>ofong> gambling onto ong>theong> reservationswas introduced to bring ong>theong>ir residents, who have been ong>economicong>ally disadvantaged formany years, out ong>ofong> poverty. At ong>theong> recent dedication ceremony ong>ofong> a casino in ong>theong> Palomararea one tribal member remarked “This is an avenue for all ong>theong> members ong>ofong> ong>theong> tribe tohave an education, to have infrastructure, electricity -- to have a future.” 3In a few short years, Indian gaming has become ong>theong> single largest revenue-producingactivity for Indian tribes in ong>theong> United States. The casino industry has been so successfulthat ong>theong> state ong>ofong> California has formed agreements with Indian tribes to tap into ong>theong>irrevenues in exchange for expong>andong>ed gambling operations.Laws in ong>theong> United States are complex in ong>theong>ir dealings with native tribes. Indiantribes are largely considered to be sovereign nations ong>andong> thus immune to many ong>ofong> ong>theong>laws that govern ong>theong>ir non-tribal neighbors. Six Indian casinos, all within 30 km (19miles) ong>ofong> ong>theong> Palomar Observatory, have been built since ong>theong> year 2000. A seventh casinois currently under construction. All six ong>ofong> ong>theong> Indian casinos near ong>theong> Palomar Observatoryare located within ong>theong> region ong>ofong> greatest controls on outdoor lighting. Yet, becauseong>theong> tribes are sovereign nations, ong>theong>y are immune to local legislation that regulates outdoorlighting.The Native American tribes have each had to face ong>theong> decision to build a casino or not.The eventual results ong>ofong> ong>theong> way those decisions were carried out may or may not allowong>theong>m to continue to honor ong>theong>ir environmental heritage, including ong>theong> night sky. Livingin harmony with ong>theong> long>andong> ong>andong> preserving ong>theong> environment is ong>ofong>ten sited as important partong>ofong> ong>theong> Native American heritage. The tribal groups today try to continue that traditionong>andong> stewardship. The quotes below were all recently obtained from websites ong>ofong> NativeAmerican tribes with casinos in ong>theong> Palomar area:“Tribal Government operations such as Pechanga’s monitor programs ong>andong> resourcemanagement exist to fully honor ong>andong> protect ong>theong> long>andong> ong>andong> our culture upon it.” 4“The Pala Tribe works diligently to anticipate any environmental damage ong>theong>y mightcreate.” 5“The religious year was observed by solstice ong>andong> equinox ceremonies, all managedby ong>theong> shaman. . . . . . They were also astronomers, knowing ong>theong> movements ong>ofong> ong>theong>stars through ong>theong> seasons ong>andong> phases ong>ofong> ong>theong> moon, which determined ong>theong> timing ong>ofong>harvest ong>andong> ceremonies such as naming, puberty rites ong>andong> marriage.” 6In building casinos, have ong>theong> tribes acted to preserve, embrace or deny ong>theong>ir heritageong>ofong> starlight? The results are mixed. A wide range ong>ofong> lighting practices have beenemployed at ong>theong>se casinos. Astronomically-friendly, fully-shielded, low-pressure sodiumlights have been installed in several locations forming a stark contrast to oong>theong>r lightingemployed on ong>theong> site. These oong>theong>r sources ong>ofong> lighting include brilliant LED billboards,65

white lighting in parking garages ong>andong> even an illuminated hotel. Yet in oong>theong>r cases, ong>theong>members ong>ofong> ong>theong> Indian tribes have acknowledged ong>theong> value ong>ofong> ong>theong>ir lighting choices inpreserving ong>theong> night sky both for ong>theong> nearby observatory ong>andong> as an important part ong>ofong> ong>theong>irheritage.We have found that with education, most ong>ofong> ong>theong>se Indian tribes, particularly thosewith local management, are very willing to make lighting choices that can preserve ong>theong>night sky for everyone. The Palomar Observatory will continue to work with ong>theong>m toprotect our common heritage ong>ofong> starlight.References1. BRUCATO, R., 1991. Site Preservation at Palomar Observatory in D.L. Crawford (Ed), LightPollution, Radio Interference, ong>andong> Space Debris, ASP Conference Series, Vol. 17, IAU Colloquium112, 1991., p. 20 - 24.2. United States Public Law 100-497-Oct. 17, 1988 100th Congress Sec. 2701.3. Santa Ysabel Tribal Vice Chairwoman Brong>andong>ie Taylor quoted in ong>theong> North County Times Newspaper[Electronic version]. April 11, 2007.4. Pechanga Bong>andong> ong>ofong> Luiseño Indians website. http://www.pechanga-nsn.gov/page?pageId=65. Pala Bong>andong> ong>ofong> Mission Indians website. http://www.palatribe.com/programs/environment/6. Kumeyaay (Diegueño) tribal website. http://www.desertusa.com/mag99/july/papr/kumeyaay.html66

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