GROVELAND - If you love looking up at the night sky and seeing all the stars fill the sky, there's a city in Florida that's hoping to attract more stargazers, photographers, and those interested light pollution. That's because Groveland, Florida, was recently designated an International Dark Sky community.
The "City with Natural Charm" becomes the first city in Florida – and the first in the southeastern U.S. – to receive the designation. Groveland is located about 40 miles northwest of Orlando
Dark Sky International's mission is simple: to protect the night sky with responsible outdoor lighting to keep the skies dark and the stars visible.
It wasn't an overnight task either. In fact, it took three years of raising awareness, community and education outreach programs, events, and working with city council to ensure all city-owned lights use nighttime-friendly lighting.
Aside from the natural beauty or a stunning photograph, Steven Miller, a Dark Sky delegate for Central Florida, said light pollution impacts each of us in more ways than we realize. He said too much light in the wrong color temperature can impact bird migrations, plant growth, or insect habits.
"It affects virtually everything from an eco-standpoint, from a cost savings standpoint, carbon footprint, climate change, human health and wildlife and ecosystem," he said.
"Once you understand what Dark Sky is about and what light pollution is and that it exists and that there's actually something that you can do about it, everybody gets on board," said Marty Proctor, a DarkSky advocate.
Throughout downtown Groveland, light fixtures point the light down vs. up.
"Outdoors, the brightest light in the sky is 4000K. It's the moon. So anything beyond that is unnatural and doesn't fit in," said Proctor.
The city has set a goal to change out all of its city lighting to Dark Sky-approved lighting by 2027.
As for everyday residents, there is no immediate change, but eventually, residents will have to change their outdoor lighting to Dark Sky friendly fixtures.
"Every human being on this planet has the right to see all the nature, the wonders of the natural world," said Miller. "Who is anybody to take that away from you? And we have taken away the Milky Way and the night sky from a lot of people, from 98% of the populated world."