Night Earth

Kalispell, Montana, United States

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Kalispell, Montana is a charming city located in the northwest region of the United States. With a population of approximately 23,000 residents, it is the largest city in Flathead County. The city is known for its stunning natural beauty, which includes the nearby Glacier National Park and the Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. In recent years, however, the night sky of Kalispell has become less visible due to increasing light pollution.

Light pollution refers to the excessive or misdirected artificial light that can have negative effects on the natural environment and human health. In Kalispell, much of the light pollution comes from the city's streetlights, commercial buildings, and residential properties. The city's geography and weather also play a role in the amount of light pollution. Due to its location in a valley surrounded by mountains, the city experiences temperature inversions, which can trap pollutants close to the ground and exacerbate light pollution.

Despite the growing concern over light pollution, there are several notable landmarks in Kalispell that illuminate the night sky. One of the most iconic landmarks is the historic Kalispell Grand Hotel. Built in 1912, the hotel has a distinctive red brick exterior and a clock tower that lights up at night. The clock tower serves as a beacon for the city and can be seen from several miles away.

In addition to the Kalispell Grand Hotel, the city has several other buildings that are illuminated at night. The downtown area, in particular, has many shops and restaurants that light up their storefronts with neon lights and signs. While these lights add to the city's charm, they also contribute to light pollution.

The habits of the people living in Kalispell also play a role in the amount of light pollution. Many residents prefer to leave outdoor lights on throughout the night for security reasons. This is particularly true in residential areas where homes are set back from the street and surrounded by trees. While outdoor lighting can be important for safety, it can also contribute to light pollution if not properly shielded or directed downward.

Industry also plays a role in the amount of light pollution in Kalispell. The city has several manufacturing facilities, including a lumber mill and a metal fabrication plant. These facilities use large amounts of artificial light to operate during the night, which can contribute to light pollution. Additionally, the city's airport has runway and parking lot lights that can also contribute to light pollution.

The effects of light pollution can be significant. In addition to obscuring the night sky, light pollution can disrupt the natural behaviors of nocturnal animals and impact their habitats. It can also disrupt the circadian rhythms of humans, which can have negative effects on sleep and overall health.

Overall, the level of light pollution in Kalispell is considered moderate. According to the Light Pollution Map, the city has a Bortle Scale rating of 5, which indicates that the Milky Way is visible but faint. However, the level of light pollution can vary depending on the time of year and weather conditions.

Kalispell, Montana is a beautiful city with a growing concern over light pollution. The city's landmarks, habits of the people living there, and industry all play a role in the amount of light pollution. While some artificial lighting is necessary for safety and security, it is important to use lighting that is properly shielded and directed downward to minimize light pollution. By taking steps to reduce light pollution, the city can preserve its natural beauty and protect the environment for future generations.