OZARK, Mo- Star-gazing is a popular nighttime activity for those who love to look up at the night sky, but there is something that can hinder that: light pollution.

Cameron Smith, Director of Planning and Development in Ozark, says the city applied for a meter along with 10-12 other cities across the state.

“To get readings to find out what our current existing levels are for the lighting at night,” he says.

Don Ficken, Chairman of Dark Sky Missouri, says his chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association gave out these meters to towns to monitor their nighttime sky.

Don Ficken

“What we’re trying to do is we’re putting these sky meters around the state and it’s not just in dark areas, but we’re also doing this in the city. We’re trying to see how’s it changing over time,” says Ficken.

The goal Ficken says is to see how fast light pollution is changing in the state of Missouri.

Both Ficken and Smith say the light meter will collect data every five minutes every hour. That data will then be sent to Ficken and his team who will then pass it along to students at Truman State University in Kirksville.

Smith says Ficken and his team named the meters from iconic Star Wars characters, the one in Ozark is named Luke. May the Force be with Luke and Ozark.

Right now Luke sits on top of the City Hall in Ozark but they have plans to move it to various locations across the town to get different readings.

Luke sitting on the roof of City Hall in Ozark

Ozark’s plan with the meter is to monitor the city’s current light conditions and to come up with a plan for future developments around the city.

“We’re looking at some criteria to put in place for future development, to kind of control the lights.”

Ficken says people need to be aware of light pollution and ways they can minimize it in their homes and businesses.

For more on the International Dark-Sky Association Missouri chapter, click here.