Readers Can Watch Time Pass Over The Wet Mountain Valley’s Night Skies with Skyglow
While the name seems counter-intuitive a new project known as “Skyglow” (which means the brightness of the night sky in a built-up area as a result of light pollution) has captured the dark skies over Custer County in a spectacular way; a project encouraged by the Custer County Board of Tourism.
Over the last few years, Custer County has garnered quite a bit of media attention for its leadership in Colorado’s dark-sky movement. From its International Dark-Sky Association Community Designation in 2015 to its participation in the award-winning Colorado Stargazing: Experience the Night program, Custer County’s efforts to preserve its dark skies and to promote night sky-viewing tourism has garnered a following.
The most recent project of the Custer County Tourism has been the filming and production of a time-lapse video for Skyglowproject.com, which is also the first Skyglow project completed in Colorado.
“Talk about ‘picture yourself here,'” says Amy Moulton of Lava Research, a Custer County Tourism partner. “It’s like taking a deep breath in fresh air but with your eyeballs and ears—just beauty, beauty, beauty, day and night, which also happens to reflect our tagline. The music really brings the emotion and connection to nature and majestic expanses. I also love the subtlety that, even with the time-lapse, there were barely any cars on the road in the sunset highway scene,”
In 2019, the Custer County Tourism Board invited Skyglow’s Harun Mehmedinović to not only film the Wet Mountain Valley but also be a keynote speaker for the inaugural Sangre Star Festival scheduled for June 2020. That in-person experience was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mehmedinović nonetheless traveled to the Wet Mountain Valley in June 2020, and spent three days shooting its night skies for the video now included in Skyglow’s award-winning time-lapse video library. Skyglow’s images and videos have been seen by more than half a billion people.
“Custer County Tourism was eager to work with Harun Mehmedinović after being mesmerized by his SKYGLOW videos that were to be showcased at the Sangre Star Festival,” said Deb Adams, Custer County Tourism Board Chairperson. “Harun is a huge advocate of dark sky preservation. Of course, the festival was canceled, but we were determined to continue with this project despite the setbacks of COVID-19.”
Skyglow is an ongoing crowdfunded project spanning 150,000 miles and 3,000,000 pictures taken, which explores North America’s remaining magnificent night skies and the grave threat of light pollution to our fragile environment. A collaboration of renowned time-lapse photographers Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović, the project journeys through the history and mythology of celestial observation, the proliferation of electrical outdoor lighting that spurred the rise of the phenomena known as “skyglow,” and the Dark Sky Movement that’s fighting to reclaim the night skies.
Several global organizations promote the preservation of dark skies free of light pollution, including https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/
The volunteer Custer County Tourism Board has a goal of promoting tourism in the Wet Mountain Valley. Their website, visitwetmountainvalley.com, offers information on activities and amenities important to visitors.
Featured image: This map of the world shows the disappearing dark skies across the globe. Image courtesy of Phys.org.