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"Light Fast" Encourages Awe and Wonder

Featuring a list of action items, Light Fast combines secular and sacred endeavors to conserve light at night. Light Fast entreats you to take inventory of your light consumption, pare your waste of photons, and enlist others to value darkness for the benefit of creation. ​

Cities of South Bend and Mishawaka, IN, as seen at night from International Space Station

Whereas some people give up a vice for Lent, only to return to consumption afterward, Light Fast encourages you to give up wasteful light for good--"for good" in the sense of forever as well as "for good" in the sense of for the goodness of all.

Light Fast offers 100-plus stimulating ideas, with most of them linked to an example of the tip put into practice. I'm speaking from personal experience, so I can assert these action items are within the realm of doing. Sometimes I invite you merely to look up and marvel at a bejeweled star field. ​

Bus stop astronomy

A greater degree of difficulty encourages you to quantify the quality of the night with a dark sky meter. Other tips encourage you to explain the value of darkness to governmental interests. The more ambitious suggestions propose you organize public observing projects where community stakeholders--including the youths--take an active role in assessing extant conditions and moving forward proactively to lessen light pollution.

Sample Tips

Here are just a few excerpts from the 100+ Tips for Giving Up Light:

Unshielded v. Fully Shielded Light Fixtures
  • Describe a nighttime area of environmental concern. Defend what is at risk of being lost. More...

  • Camp overnight at a regional star party. More...

  • Offer your local government tips for better lighting practices. More..

Walt Whitman


  • Help kids get under the stars from a dark site. Register for AstroCamp directly through YMCA Camp Eberhart. More...

  • Mentor a child doing a science fair project. More...

  • Patronize businesses that support observing opportunities. More...

  • Compare your backyard view of Orion to six star charts. More...

Six Orion Star Charts
  • Do more Bus Stop Astronomy under the morning sky. More...

  • Prevent breast cancer beyond one pink-intensive month. Install the f.lux app to lessen your blue light exposure. More...

  • Discover a dark sacred night. Hum "It's a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong.

Girl at telescope

  • Celebrate local artists who share their vision of the night. ​​

  • Encourage your school district to watch a celestial event unfold as a community science adventure. More...

  • Measure sky quality with a Sky Quality Meter. More...

Indiana Bicentennial Star banner; see!bicentennial-star/c1ekh
  • Celebrate Indiana's 200-year history by finding the state's Bicentennial Star. More...

Awe and Wonder

Pope Francis entreats us to "approach nature and the environment...with openness to awe and wonder." (Laudato Si', par. 11). Nowhere do I find more awe and wonder than in a dark sky emblazoned with stars.

Starfield with the constellation Orion and the star Sirius

The 100+ tips are intended to show by example the multiple ways--big and small--that you can increase awareness about the value of night and alter your personal practices to reduce light waste.

Light Fast aims to create sustainable habits in support of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si'. He writes, "We are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion (par. 220)...Our efforts at education will be inadequate and ineffectual unless we strive to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature." (215)

In astronomy, time and distances are immense. In biology, evolutionary time is still significant. But in mankind's altering of the natural kingdom, the time in which we have grievously impacted the environment is faster than evolution's ability to keep pace. In a mere two centuries we have increased our consumerism so much, including excessive artificial light, that the night sky in many places looks like Pope Francis' description of earth:

20. Technology…proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others. 21. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.

Please do your part to mitigate the problem of a trashed nightscape. Light Fast is inspired by the Carbon Fast Calendar, which encourages better habits to promote a sustainable and more just future. Thanks also go to the Creation Care Team at St. Pius X Catholic Church.

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