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  • There's a lot to love about living in a big, bright city.

  • People, culture, late-night food.

  • But there's something missing.

  • It's there, but you can't see it.

  • The night sky.

  • This is the story about a small town in Colorado.

  • Actually, two small towns in Colorado.

  • That are devoted to space.

  • Westcliffe has a population of 564 residents,

  • and Silver Cliff has a population of 575.

  • This used to be a mining community

  • and then it evolved into a railroad community,

  • and then into a ranching community.

  • We're always looking to do something

  • that will bring people into our community,

  • and lately that seems to be we need to invest in our sky.

  • So they made light pollution their enemy.

  • They darkened their towns so that the night sky

  • could become their star attraction.

  • Have you ever seen the Milky Way?

  • That goes from horizon to horizon?

  • 88% of the world's population

  • has never seen the Milky Way.

  • It's the most magnificent thing in the world.

  • That's what we see here.

  • But for the towns to go dark

  • they needed to cover all of their lights,

  • not just streetlamps,

  • but the lights outside every house and ranch near town.

  • That wasn't easy.

  • This is a frontier town, and I can tell you,

  • frontier people don't like being told what to do.

  • We had to win their hearts and minds.

  • It took 10 years.

  • They passed ordinances,

  • raised money to cover the streetlights,

  • and even build an observatory.

  • And the darker the town became,

  • the more people saw the light.

  • This year, the valley's dark sky was designated

  • as one of the darkest in the world,

  • drawing visitors from all over.

  • Okay.

  • Might need a six-pack though (chuckles).

  • Well I was really hopin' we'd be able to see Saturn by now.

  • Yeah, me too.

  • That a community would decide to dim its lights

  • and help everyone to appreciate the beauty

  • of the night sky is an amazing thing.

  • You come to a place like this

  • and the stars just, burst,

  • and it's remarkable.

  • Not a lot of people are lucky enough to see the dark sky as our ancestors saw it,

  • and I feel that we're a very special place

  • to be able to look at the stars

  • as people did thousands of years ago.

  • It's a humbling thing.

  • Suddenly you realize you can almost touch it

  • and you're now a part of the bigger universe.

  • And so it's just a wonderful experience

  • to see the dark skies.

  • That's what we're tryin' to preserve.

There's a lot to love about living in a big, bright city.

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B1 US GreatBigStory sky night sky dark sky town dark

The Towns That Embraced Darkness to See Starlight

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    Evangeline posted on 2021/03/28
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