Monday, December 29, 2008

Streetlights - wipe out stars, planets, meteors and satellites

I suppose its the street-lighting that's more annoying than the cloudy skies, although when you're hoping to see something at a specific time, both can be pretty bad.  Clouds can't be helped, by and large, but street lighting is a 'crime' on so many fronts. It seems little appreciated by the public and local authorities in particular that current models of street lighting are hugely wasteful. The fact that most designs leak almost half the emission straight up into the night, giving that palid orange glow complete dominion over urban skies, seems not to register that it represents a waste of energy as well. More directionally oriented systems shine the light where its needed, directly downwards and make the streets brighter and the skies darker.

The International Dark Sky Association and amateur astronomy groups have been campaigning, with some successes, for years on this issue, but still have a long way to go to get this into the public consciousness. Just think, though, how much we are being deprived of some of the most beautiful aspects of nature -  the stars and planets. If you want to learn more have a look at this guide developed for US schools.

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