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Astronomical Society Celebrates Dark-Sky Victory

As part of an ongoing campaign against light pollution that affects stargazing, Door Peninsula Astronomical Society (DPAS) celebrated a local business’s project that improved lighting about two miles from the society’s 17-inch telescope. 

Tom Gwilym, DPAS Vice President and northern Wisconsin advocate for the International Dark-Sky Association, persistently wrote letters and lodged complaints for more than a year about lights shining upward and outward from the Amoco and Culver’s at the intersection of State Highway 42/57 and Gordon Road/County Road BB.

This fall, new lights installed there now shine down to light the parking lot rather than blur the view of the heavens. DPAS President Dave Lenius said the change is a big improvement.

“We give them a big shout-out and thumbs up,” Lenius said. “I’ll also say the roundabouts out [on State Highway 42/57] have beautiful lights that are downward-facing with full shields.”

Lenius said development in Sturgeon Bay keeps DPAS vigilant. He had praise for Door County Ace Hardware’s downward lights, as well as the Kwik Trip lights – although that station’s bright lighting reflects somewhat off of the pavement, he said.

Lenius said the astronomical society had another victory in late summer and early fall when it precisely programmed its state-of-the-art, magnetically-driven, 17-inch telescope to synchronize with the earth’s movements.

The telescope provides digital views of space via computer rather than through an eyepiece, so visitors or online followers at home can see what the club members see in real time. At a local gallery, the association recently showed 14 color, blur-free photographs of deep space targets such as nebulas, some from time exposures of as long as five minutes. 

“The telescope is really impressing us now,” Gwilym said. “We are starting to learn it well, as well as the image processing.”

The next DPAS viewing night at 2200 Utah St. takes place at 7 pm Saturday, Dec. 16.