Today, more than eighty percent of the world’s population can no longer see the Milky Way at night due to the glow of artificial light emanating from manmade structures. Even more concerning is that light pollution is growing at an estimated ten percent each year. The good news is that light pollution is one of the most combatable forms of pollution. We all can use turn off lights, use responsible lighting and help to educate others about the effects of artificial light at night.
The December 12th Old Rag membership meeting will feature a panel discussion featuring the problem of light pollution. Dark sky advocates: Tom Reinert, Torney Van Acker, and Joyce Harman will examine the unintended negative impacts of artificial light at night on wildlife, humans, and the night sky, as well as strategies to promote responsible outdoor lighting.
President, DarkSky International
Tom Reinert is a retired Washington, D.C., lawyer who spent most of his career representing airlines and railroads in labor and employment matters, including extensive experience translating scientific experts for lay decision-makers. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Law School.
His environmental activism included a decade fighting for water quality with local riverkeeper organizations on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In 2013, seeing the Andromeda Galaxy for the first time with his naked eyes from atop Kitt Peak rekindled an interest in astronomy and a desire to eliminate light pollution.
Currently residing in Northern Virginia, he and his wife Chris travel extensively in the western United States visiting dark sky locations. For several years, he has assisted Dark-Sky as a volunteer on legal and public policy issues at the national level.
Torney Van Acker is a retired electrical engineer and capital projects development manager who has owned farm property in Rappahannock county since 2002, becoming a full-time resident in 2016. Torney grew up on a dairy farm in northwest New Jersey, an area that closely resembles Rappahannock County. His passions are organic farming and gardening, sustainable land use, hiking, running and dark skies preservation.
Torney lives in Castleton, Virginia with his wife Sylvie of 44 years in a custom-built home that they designed. They are blessed with three adult married children and two grandchildren, whom they see often.
Torney currently serves on the Board of the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP) and until 2021, served on the Board of the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority (RCRFA) managing the Rappahannock County Park. On behalf of the RCRFA, he obtained a Dark Sky Park designation for the County Park from the International Dark-Sky Association (now known as DarkSky International). It was the third park in Virginia and the third county park in the US to be so designated.
As an RLEP Board member, Torney launched and managed a free outdoor lighting replacement program for county residents that replaces old lighting fixtures with newer energy-efficient dark sky friendly models. Over 250 lights have been replaced since 2018.
Joyce Harman was born and raised in Washington D.C., but her time was always spent in the country riding horses. She became a veterinarian in 1984, then worked in England and Ireland for a few years before coming back to the states. Currently, Joyce is retired from active veterinary practice and lives in Flint Hill, VA.
Joyce grew up in a darkroom and her camera has never been far from her side in all her travels. She is a founding member of the Old Rag Photography Gallery, a cooperative in Rappahannock county, VA. She also exhibits with Middle Street Gallery in Washington, VA.
Joyce is president of the Manassas-Warrenton Camera Club and lectures to photography groups on various topics. She teaches photography classes and judges at camera clubs in the area.
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