Light Pollution


Light pollution or trespass occurs when light spills into the sky or into surrounding areas, blocking views of the night sky and disturbing wildlife. A dark night sky is particularly important in the vicinity of the McCormick Observatory on O’Hill.

U.Va.’s most recent Exterior Lighting Study(2011), which is in the process of being implemented, focuses on safety, energy efficiency, historic preservation, and reducing light pollution.


  • Eliminate light pollution within the Observatory Sensitive Zones
  • Replace all crosswalk lights with full cutoff LED lighting
  • Utilize LED lights for 90% of all outdoor lighting
  • Reduce glare and increase safety for pedestrians and drivers
  • Increase the energy efficiency of outdoor lighting fixtures through decommissioning and retrofits


The Light Pollution Working Group, under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee, seeks to implement projects that reduce light spill from University property (sites and buildings), reduce light pollution into the night sky, while decreasing energy consumption and glare for a safer night-time environment. Membership is open to all.

The McCormick Observatory hosts public open house events. Learn more »


U.Va. faculty member Ricky Patterson has been working as a researcher for 25 years, primarily in the Department of Astronomy. He operates and maintains the astronomical photographic plate collection of the McCormick Observatory and other data sets. Dr. Patterson is also the co-chair of the Light Pollution working group and a member of the U.Va. Committee on Sustainability.