If asked what their favorite nature views at UVA are, students will most likely respond with a spring day on the lawn or a favorite view out a classroom window of the mountains off in the distance. However, views of the stars from Grounds is very underappreciated. UVA has many places where you can get amazing views of the night sky. Overall, the Lawn is the most easily accessible for students and the large stretch of the Lawn lends itself to an uninterrupted view of the night sky. The top of Observatory Hill is obviously where you will see the most stars because it is shielded from the surrounding light, but it is very difficult for students to reach.
The amount of stars you can see from the Lawn is obviously fewer than those you can see at the Observatory because of the light pollution from Central Grounds and the Corner (the glow of surrounding light is evident in the picture above), but you can still see far more than you could in any city. The photo below taken by Jake Promisel, a second year Astrophysics student, is a time-lapsed photograph of the night sky above the lawn during a new moon. Looking up into the night sky, one can truly appreciate the vastness of our universe and put everything into a whole new perspective.
The night-time biodiversity is not often thought about, but it is an important part of the Charlottesville ecosystem. While looking up at the night sky, it is common to see bats and migrating birds fly overhead. Rabbits and opposums can also be seen at night on and near the Lawn while you are laying there looking up at the sky. Unfortunately, the night sky views and night-time biodiversity are being harmed by light pollution. The Corner and Alderman Road dormatories are constantly spilling light into the night sky. In order to preserve the the views and night-time biodiversity, we must change our city’s lighting to keep it contained.
Post by Kyle Mavity