Aspen wont go totally dark after all
ASPEN City officials have abandoned their effort to have Aspen go completely dark during the Winterskl celebration this weekend as a way to reduce light pollution.Aspen City Council members last month supported the idea of turning off all lights in town Saturday night during an educational event with Harvard astronomy expert David Aguilar in Wagner Park. But because of the way city street lights are wired and because of public safety concerns, the city wont be able to turn out the lights on Aspen streets, said Aspen Community Relations officer Sally Spaulding. Its a really difficult thing to turn the lights off in Aspen, she said, adding city blocks cant be turned off individually. It was going to be prohibitive in terms of costs and hours worked.Instead, the city and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association are asking local businesses and residents to turn off their lights on Saturday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. during the interactive telescope viewing experience, which will explore the technology used from the time of Galileo to NASA.But the dark skies effort doesnt end after Winterskl. City officials are hoping residents will follow their lead in reducing light pollution and conserving energy.The citys parks department is experimenting with LED lights on the pedestrian mall that focus light on the street, not into the sky. Officials also will be experimenting with direct lighting retrofits inside the historic glass globes on city street fixtures. The 58th annual Winterskl celebration takes place Thursday through Sunday. Winterskl 2009, Powder Days & Stellar Nights, is inspired by the United Nations International Year of Astronomy. The year-long celebration commemorates the 400th anniversary of Galileos first use of the telescope. Aguilar is hoping to pass on Galileos sense of wonderment to Aspen residents and guests in attendance. The event is free and open to everyone. In addition, he will be hosting a free astronomy lecture and exhibition of his original space art at the Aspen Institute from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday.The city of Aspen currently makes an effort to regulate for darker skies through its municipal code, which dictates both residential and nonresidential outdoor lighting. The intent of the code is to reduce the use of exterior lights so that city residents can enjoy the nighttime firstname.lastname@example.org
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