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“I would like to shrink the ring people have to drive outside of the city to see the Milky Way dependably,” she says. “It’s about a 40-minute drive at this point.”

Turnshek (Carnegie Mellon University) is a dark-sky expert who helped draft Pittsburgh City Council’s new Dark Sky Ordinance, which covers the city's parks, facilities, and all streetlights. With the new ordinance, the “ring” could be about to shorten dramatically. The new ordinance, which applies only to city-owned property for now, would replace 35,000 old high-pressure sodium streetlights over the next 18 months to two years. All will be dark-sky-friendly, with cut-off fixtures that direct light where it needs to go.

Crucially, the ordinance also replaces newer LED streetlights, the kind that were hastily installed in cities across the world in the 2010s. “About a decade ago, 4,297 streetlights were replaced with 5,000-kelvin LEDs,” says Turnshek. These bright, blue-white lights turn night into day, and are a leading cause of the world’s growing light pollution, so Pittsburgh will replace them with lower-temperature, amber-colored LEDs.

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