Rivers and Dark Skies

Take a look at the image below showing our state at night.  It is part of the "Black Marble" set of images captured by a NASA-NOAA satellite and released earlier this month.  You can view a zoomable version of the entire planet by following the link.  http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/3866-black-marble-zoomable-image.html

South Carolina at night (NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC)

As you look at the image you will notice that Columbia and surrounding areas are bright while much of the area around the Congaree and Wateree Rivers are dark.  These are the river floodplains, some of the last remaining pieces of undeveloped land in our region.   Much of the dark area is protected either as pubic lands, like Congaree National park, or private lands protected through conservation easements. 

Preserving our floodplains is crucial as these areas provide important benefits like wildlife habitat and flood storage during high flow events.  One of the other benefits these areas offer are dark skies, areas not affected by urban light pollution.  That is especially important for skygazers, many of who may be looking for a dark spot to watch this week’s Geminid meteor shower. 

For tips on watching the Geminid meteor shower follow the link below.  I especially liked their last piece of advice:

“As a wise man once said, meteor watching is a lot like fishing. You go outside. You enjoy nature all around you. You hope you catch some!”