Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Guiding communities and regions toward vibrant and sustainable futures.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
Night Sky Blues
We often don’t miss something until it is gone. One of the things I miss is seeing
the stars at night. Sure, you can see some stars, but not the multitude I remember
as a kid when the Milky Way blazed across the sky like a well-marked roadway. Unfortunately,
many of our Arkansas children have never seen this marvel of the night sky. Reducing
light pollution — a waste product of our age of abundant, cheap energy — is one way
we could conserve electricity and make the transition to electric vehicles go a bit
I write this from a small ranch in central New Mexico where the wintertime night sky
is a thing to behold. The stars that make up the various constellations stand out
with such brilliance it is easy to see why the ancients gave them such fanciful names.
The Milky Way rides across the night sky as I remember it from my childhood days.
Just a few miles down the road is the Very Large Array, a collection of 27 25-meter
satellite dishes that were placed here in the 1970s because of the location’s remoteness.
These dishes comprise the largest radio telescope in the world. Light pollution doesn’t
interfere with their reception but even faint electronic signals our modern society
produces can interfere with the weak signals they intercept from space. Were the night
sky lit up with stray light from nearby cities, the facility would probably be too
close to modern civilization to function properly.
Light pollution mainly comes from outdoor lighting that has been a part of our world
for several hundred years. The first street lighting was from gas lights that were
promoted to make the streets safer. Then with the spread of electricity in the 20th
century, outdoor lighting became so common it almost seemed normal. When my family
installed electricity on our new farmstead back in the 1960s, the electric company
gave us a “free” yard light, but their rules did not allow the thing to be switched
Light pollution falls into four distinct categories: glare, sky glow, light trespass
and clutter. Glare is primarily associated with roadway safety when too much light
is aimed in the wrong direction. Meeting a car with its high beams on at night is
a good example. Sky glow is the cumulative effect of all the lights produced in a
city that cast an orange halo into the sky at night. In such communities, only the
brightest stars are visible at night.
Light trespass is when an adjacent property owner uses a too-powerful or improperly
shielded light to illuminate their property and inadvertently disrupts the nighttime
experience for their neighbors. Recently I’ve moved to the country and have had discussions
with my neighbors about their too-bright LED floodlights that almost make it bright
enough to read outside at midnight in my yard.
Light clutter is just that. While a fantasy land view of lighting displays might be
interesting on the Vegas strip, it can be a bit off-putting in more mundane situations.
Approaching Fayetteville at night via the new I-49 exchange when it was first built
was a lovely experience, but then the baseball arena parking lot was outfitted with
the largest, brightest lights known to man. Overnight the scene changed from beautiful
and charming to an ugly glare, like an over-exposed image. Fortunately, since then
they have toned it down a bit.
While lighting the streets to reduce crime and accidents is a logical concept, there
is surprisingly little evidence to support this theory. In fact, some big cities have
experimented with lighting alleyways and discovered that the crime rate actually increases
with better lighting. Graffiti and other property crimes are often higher in well-lit
areas, presumably because the spray paint artists can see what they are doing.
Some cities are beginning to require down-directed street lighting and beginning to
address light trespass issues by changing their building code ordinances. Street lighting
is expensive for cities, often accounting for as much as 50 percent of their energy
bill. Retailers could reduce energy consumption by shutting off parking lot lights
at night. We can all help by more thoughtful use of outdoor lighting. The easiest
way for homeowners to reduce excess lighting is by switching off outdoor lights or
installing motion detectors. This can provide a sense of security and allow for easier
movement during the dark hours. Maybe we will never really see the stars shine as
they used to but mindful choices of how we light our world will surely help.
Gerald Klingaman is a retired Arkansas Extension Horticulturist and retired Operations
Director for the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. After more than two decades of penning the popular Plant of the Week column, he’s taking a new direction, offering views on nature as he pokes about the
state and nation. Views and opinions reflect those of the author and are not those
of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. If you have questions
or comments for Dr. Klingaman about these articles contact him at email@example.com.