Stargazing in Park City — not just a Sundance pastime |

Stargazing in Park City — not just a Sundance pastime

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Stargazing in Park City need not just be pastime during the Sundance Film Festival each January.

People who live in the Park City area, away from the big-city lights, are able to look up to the starry skies. But experts maintain the nighttime views of the stars are threatened by light pollution.

On Monday, Nov. 15, one of the experts is scheduled to speak in Park City at a presentation put on by a group of organizations, including the Wasatch Back Environmental Alliance, Park City Chamber/Bureau, City Hall and Rocky Mountain Power. Pete Strasser, the technical director for the Tuscon, Ariz.-based International Dark-Sky Association, a not-for-profit, is slated to address a gathering at the Park City Library and Education Center, Room 205.

The event is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. It is free. Refreshments will be served.

Strasser said in an interview lights do not necessarily increase safety, claiming that the idea of "more lights mean more safe" is inaccurate. He said lights should be placed in locations where illumination is needed and a proper brightness should be selected. Tuscon has had lighting restrictions since the 1970s, he said. City Hall discourages light pollution as well, but some Parkites have been critical of the effectiveness.

"If they’re already aware of the problems, that’s a major milestone in and of itself," Strasser said.

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People in Park City, many moving to the city from larger places with lots of light pollution, enjoy the nighttime skies and see the darkness as one of the benefits of living in a small community.

Marianne Cone, a member of the Wasatch Back Environmental Alliance’s oversight board and a longtime Parkite, said the places around Park City that emit light pollution are obvious.

"You just look around. You’ll see them," Cone, a former member of the Park City Council, said.

She mentioned the lights at the City Park basketball court as being among those that are bright at night. Cone said light pollution also impacts the wildlife that inhabits the Park City area.

Cone, like Strasser, said people overestimate the brightness of the light they need to install for safety purposes.

"You don’t have to have the security lights you think you do," she said.

For more information about the Monday event, contact Cone. Her phone numbers are 649-9613 and 659-9700.