Evening Skies: First Satellites, and Now Wind Turbines

Credit: Grist.org

Earth-bound astronomers have another force to contend with these days – wind turbines. Yes, the efforts to reduce carbon emissions is increase light emissions around the globe. Why can’t anything be easy?

The Wall Street Journal recently noted that the lights added to wind turbines to make them visible to airplanes is causing light pollution for local residents and astronomers alike. In the article, “Lawmakers Crack Down on Wind-Turbine Lights That Flash All Night,” we learn that a simple fix may save the night sky. Lawmakers in some states are requiring that the warning lights remain off until an aircraft approaches.

Of course, this is a costly solution to the wind turbine operators or they would have done it already. The article states:

Aircraft-detection technology approved by the Federal Aviation Administration has been on the market for a half-dozen years. The systems are estimated to cost $1 million to $2 million to install with additional operating expenses each year. 

That said, it seems to be a fair compromise to allow local citizens to enjoy their evenings. I am not sure if anyone is planning to require the same from cell towers and other commercial structures, but it’s a start.