Support Us Button Widget

Protect the night by learning about light pollution

Downtown lights pouring into the night sky obscure our views of the galaxy, but a few practices you can implement tonight could help totally reverse light pollution in Charleston.

The Milky Way over Folly Beach.

This, but in the heart of downtown. | Photo by @samkoganphotography

Table of Contents

Did you know that the starry sky in Charleston is incredibly unique? Seriously, no two places in the world have the same view of the stars — talk about local.

The thing is, it’s likely you’ve never gotten to fully appreciate the night sky. For example, if you live in downtown Charleston, you probably won’t see:

  • Zodiacal lights, the cone of light above sunrise + sunset points
  • Meteor showers, like the Orionids in October and Leonids in November
  • The Milky Way, visible as a yellow-orange band of light in the night sky

In fact, we’re betting the sky at night is light gray or orange and bright enough to read by. So, are we psychic? Well, maybe — but these are all effects of light pollution.


Light. You may not think of light as a pollutant, but hundreds of thousands of people pointing lights into the night sky can seriously affect natural cycles that rely on light + the stars. Think:

  • Birds that pathfind using constellations
  • Insects attracted to light (like a moth to a flame, you could say)
  • Plants that use light to know when to grow + shed leaves
  • All creatures (even humans) that rely on day-night cycles for sleep

Even setting aside the ecosystem, it’s hard to argue with the view. (For reference, downtown Charleston is an 8-9 on the Bortle scale.)

Here’s something you won’t expect…

This is really good news. Of all the pollution that feels out of our control, light pollution is completely reversible. The International Dark Sky Association has resources to help you use artificial light conscientiously — and with October ringing in peak stargazing season, now’s the perfect time to jump in. Here’s some tips to get you started: