Dark Skies


RLEP Dark Skies Initiative

LINK to Voyager I & II update just for fun.  Voyager I has left our solar system!

There is a tiny dark spot on the East Coast. Look closely, just below the string of very bright lights from Boston to Washington DC.  That is Rappahannock!

Mission:  RLEP’s Dark Skies Initiative is keeping Rappahannock County natural by encouraging citizens to voluntarily reduce their use of artificial light and conserve energy. Two good deeds at once!

Our County’s Comprehensive Plan says (in Chapter 6) that its overarching goal is to keep Rappahannock a “scenic county”.  Also, the Plan’s very first goal is “Preserve the overall view-shed of the county in its unspoiled, natural setting, which gives it special character and identity.”

Moon best


Night skies are an important scenic value.  After all, it is dark half the time.  Scenic views of the night sky, valleys and mountain landscapes are fantastic by moon and starlight.  It is important these values are preserved by minimizing the use of artificial outside light at night.

Night skies can be easily lost. Viewing Rappahannock from space at night, we clearly have a “special character” in our darkness compared to the rest of the East Coast.

Preservation of clear “Dark” Skies also avoids injury to wildlife and bird migration, increases tourism, reduces our carbon footprint, provides opportunities for study and inspiration, and promotes good neighbors by avoiding light trespass.

RLEP seeks to achieve its mission by educating citizens on the importance of preserving clear nighttime skies, and providing FREE light replacement.  We also work with County leaders to ensure that the existing commercial lighting ordinances are enforced.

I agree with preserving our unique dark skies, but I need some light on my property at night.  What can I do?
Rappahannock Electric Cooperative now offers free replacement of existing pole lights to Dark Skies LED warm spectrum lights. RLEP is also replacing private lights for free!  Contact board member Torney Van Acker RLEP for more information or to schedule an appointment to review your current lights or future needs. 703-250-7943

I need my barn light to deter thieves.  And I don’t want the County interfering with my property rights.
RLEP is seeking only voluntary cooperation in connection with its Dark Skies Initiative.  We think you will like these new lights that give excellent coverage on the ground and do not shine inside your or your neighbor’s home.

RLEP’s central mission is to keep the County natural. We are unique that our nighttime sky and landscape vistas are pristine.  One can see the Milky Way , for example, but it is not clearly visible – and often not visible at all — on the entire East coast.  Are clear nighttime vistas a characteristic of country-life?  We believe the answer is clear and beautiful.

Where can I obtain more information about dark skies?
There is an increasing appreciation for the value of preserving dark skies across our country and the world.  Information is available on the web.  In addition to RLEP, a good starting place is the International Dark Sky Association, http://darksky.org.  You may also call RLEP Board member Torney Van Acker to discuss lighting options for your property!  703-250-7943.