“If the Stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore;
… But every night come out these envoys of beauty,
And light the universe with their admonishing smile.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last Sunday a rainstorm moved through our area. It was a complete surprise for me as well as NOAA meteorologists. As the CV Weekly went to press, there was no indication of this much-needed gift. Again on Monday, more rain fell. To add to the excitement, a rainbow arched across the foothills and snow dusted local mountaintops.
One of the best views in the Crescenta Valley is from the northbound 2 freeway. Besides the feeling of returning home, the visual impact – the mountains and expansive sky – is remarkable. Changing weather or time of day adds an array of dimensions to the scene.
Looking over the foothills at night, the unincorporated areas are evident and clearly defined by a patch of black. There are no streetlights. Some of us have been left “in the dark.” Growing up in the dark, I don’t remember much being said one way or another about our lack of light. If anything, we knew viewing the cosmos was better farther away from city lights. Therefore, living “in the county” made us privy to the stars, planets and meteor showers.
Once again, there is talk of putting in streetlights. I imagine there are good arguments on both sides of the issue. In 1879, Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulbs were wired and placed in New York street lamps. Instantly night becomes day; now there is more time for both work and play! Transportation and streets become safer. Over the years the use of streetlights increased as the population grew. Too much light!
When the 1994 Northridge Earthquake caused a blackout, L.A. residents called 911 to report seeing “a giant, silvery cloud” in the sky. It was the Milky Way, usually obliterated by the glow of the urban sky. Sad, but true.
If crime prevention is the main reason for a well-lit community, what do studies say? There are too many variables for the perfect answer. But a simple conclusion can be made. Where crime rates are high, streetlights help. In average or low crime areas, better lighting is of little benefit. Is crime more prevalent in La Crescenta during the day or night? It is my understanding, crime-wise, that nighttime is safer. Perhaps the streets are best left to the stargazers and coyotes.
Two cold storm systems are expected. Probability is 100% for a wet weekend. Another chance arrives on Monday. My umbrella and rain gauge await the addition to the season’s total of 8.23 inches.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.