The owner of a Tusket auto dealership is turning off the lights in his giant car lot overnight so others can see the stars better.
Marcel Pothier says Tim Doucette, owner of the Deep Sky Eye Observatory in Quinan, had mentioned the light pollution from Tusket Ford in the past.
“He said when he was looking through his telescope at the sky, he saw these big light ‘bubbles’, areas of light pollution,” said Pothier.
“Yarmouth was the biggest one, Pubnico another, but our business was always a big one because of the (lot) lights being on as late as they were.”
In 2014 the UNESCO-associated International Starlight Foundation designated the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores region as a Starlight Tourism Destination and a Starlight Reserve – the first designation of this kind to be awarded in Eastern Canada. Since then, astronomy tourism is a sector that the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association has pursued.
Doucette takes frequent readings of the night sky and tries to keep track of the light pollution and immediately noticed the change when the lights went off earlier in the evening at the dealership.
“I noticed visually that it’s much darker,” he said.
He recently made a presentation to the Municipality of Argyle about light pollution and its effect on astro-tourism. He plans on informing other municipal units in the region as well on how they can reduce light pollution.
Doucette is chair of the Starlight Development committee, which has a mandate to spread awareness of light pollution in the region and educate electricians and lighting companies on recommended lighting choices.
He expressed sincere appreciation to Tusket Ford for changing their light schedule.
“It was really nice to see that they changed their lights so that they go off after they close their business and everyone goes home. It makes a huge, huge difference.”
He also says he’d like to see other dealerships and parking lots make the same change.
“It’s not just about seeing the stars, it’s about keeping our own health, helping the environment, saving energy and saving money.”
Pothier says lights used to be on past midnight, on the chance that someone might be out for a drive and see a vehicle they might want to inquire about.
The new celestial timers are programmed to come on half an hour before dusk and shut off an hour later. With modern technology, there’s no need for bright lights through the night for vandalism either. The business’s security camera provider has installed night vision cameras to address that issue.
Pothier’s pleased with the change.
“I know it helped Tim with his Deep Sky Eye Observatory and it made sense for us on different levels.”