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We have a 'right to starlight,' astronomers say

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posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 05:18 PM

The public's "right to starlight" is steadily being eroded by urban illumination that is the bane of astronomers everywhere, the International Astronomical Union said on Friday.

The body, which wrapped up an 11-day general assembly in Rio de Janeiro that attracted galaxy-gazers from around the world, argued that authorities should use more unobtrusive lighting in cities and towns.
Such moves would not only free up the night skies to make for easier viewing but also promote environmental protection, energy savings and tourism, it said in a resolution.

"The progressive degradation of the night sky should be regarded as a fundamental loss," the union said.
It asserted that being able to see the stars "should be considered a fundamental socio-cultural and environmental right." Article

I could not agree more with this article, living in the city its a major problem for me. Light pollution literally means the sky is impossible to see most nights, only the brightest of stars are visible.

posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 06:16 PM
This may be a little off topic, but I think people should be aware that light pollution also has other negative effects:

Light Pollution Taking Toll on Wildlife, Eco-Groups Say

Artificial lighting seems to be taking the largest toll on bird populations. Nocturnal birds use the moon and stars for navigation during their bi-annual migrations.

"When they fly through a brightly-lit area, they become disoriented," said Michael Mesure, executive director of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), a Toronto-based environmental organization. The birds often crash into brilliantly-lit broadcast towers or buildings, or circle them until they drop from exhaustion.
Seabirds are also at risk, said Bill Montevecchi, a marine ornithologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in St. John's, Canada.

Some, like the tiny Leach's storm petrel, feed offshore on bioluminescent plankton—so are particularly drawn to light. The birds may be fatally attracted to lighthouses, offshore drilling platforms, and the high-intensity lamps used by fishermen to lure squid to the surface.
Newly hatched turtles need a dark night sky to orient themselves toward the sea, but artificial lights behind beaches lure them away.

"Hatchlings are attracted to lights and crawl inland, or crawl aimlessly down the beach, sometimes until dawn, when terrestrial predators or birds get them," said Michael Salmon, a biologist at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.
A recent experiment sheds light on the light-pollution problem for salamanders. Ecologists Sharon Wise and Bryant Buchanan from Utica College strung white holiday lights along transects near Mountain Lake Biological Station in Pembroke, Virginia, to test the effects of artificial lighting on the amphibians—which normally emerge from beneath leaf litter to hunt about an hour after dusk..

"We found that when lights are on, they stay hidden for an additional hour," said Wise. "The later they come out, the less food they may be able to eat."

Full article here:

posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 06:50 PM
good post, S&F,

here in New Zealand in a South Island town call Tekapo, they have by laws in place to preserve the starlight.

They have also applied for this site to be a night heritage site.

Austin said half the people of the world at present could not see the stars because of night light pollution.

With Tekapo by-laws already in place and monitoring the effects on the night sky of further development are not expected to impact on the quality of the night sky which will allow for astro-tourism to fully develop in the area. Already there are about 1.4 million people through Tekapo annually

hopefully more places can follow suit to this and try and preserve the little dark skies that we have.


All household lights must beam down, floodlights are a no-no and all outdoor lighting must be switched off between 11pm and sunrise.Sodium lights are also a bonus, and all street lights are designed to shine light down onto the street

[edit on 22-8-2009 by grantbeed]

posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 06:56 PM
With a posting name of Night Star, I just had to make an appearance in here. LOL Wow, I didn't realise this was happening. interesting about the nocturnal birds. Poor birdies.
Stars are so beautiful glittering on their velvet stage.

posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 07:44 PM
I live in the city and when I find myself in the country at night, I cannot believe the difference in the sky. Light pollution is a real problem.

I've read about communities of star gazers though that make it mandatory for anyone moving into the community to block all lights at night. I'll bet those are sweet places to live for the star gazers.

[edit on 22-8-2009 by mrwupy]

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 03:26 AM
Light pollution - the bane of all amateur and professional astronomers.

The night sky was such a wonderful sight here where I live. They added a few street lights a few months ago though and I was amazed at how much it changed the view of the stars. This is just a couple of street lights, I can only imagine what the sky must look like in Las Vegas.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 03:37 AM
reply to post by refuse_orders

That would be a great thing for amateur astronomers all-over!
I was given a nice refractor as a present by my then Fiance a few years ago, and ended up giving it away to my nephew out of shear frustration.
Living towards the inner-city of Sydney, owning a scope was virtually pointless.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 04:19 AM
My old astronomy teacher always complained of this, and even tried convincing officials to install streetlights which have refractors which direct the light downward instead of all over the place, just to reduce the stray light pollution. Sometimes I use my green laser to turn the streetlight off by tricking the sensor into thinking its daytime. The difference is dramatic.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 07:28 AM
i doubt, for a lot of the cities, this would be enough to open up the heavenly body to the naked gaze due to pollution. i can think of LA as a good example.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 08:19 AM
reply to post by refuse_orders

I have seen the night sky away from lights, it is amazing, so amazing in fact that you have to wonder why anyone would hide it for any reason. I look out into the Milkyway and say "There is not flippin way possible we are alone!"

Almost makes you think there is a conspiracy to hide the stars...

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 08:51 AM
I live in the country proper. No street lights and neighbors are far enough apart that if they did have exterior lights on they would not interfere, but most don't use outside lights because they reduce your field of view. It would be surprising to most people to know how bright the night actually is on a cloud free night. When the moon is near full it is almost like daylight outside at night. Very little artificial lighting is needed unless it is really cloudy.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 08:53 AM
Thats not written in the Constitution, and frankly I find this thread just a little silly. If you don't live in a place where its dark enough, than just go outside town limits a little, or try to make it a little darker in your own back yard. We need street lights and such to help keep crime down and protect our neighborhoods, I do not want to sacrafice my familys protection for you to star gaze, I am sorry but uh no!

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 09:01 AM
reply to post by Mr_XIM

So if its not in the Constitution then it does not matter? Now I know where I've been going wrong all this time...

Nobody is suggesting we remove street lights, as you have stated they have benefits. Surely as an ecological matter its better to reduce light pollution anyway?

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 09:34 AM

Originally posted by mrwupy
I live in the city and when I find myself in the country at night, I cannot believe the difference in the sky. Light pollution is a real problem.

Precisely. Unless you go to the country and see how the sky looks without those lights, it can be easy to forget how it is supposed to look.

The night sky is the most wondrous thing on our planet. We should all look up more often.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 10:00 AM
reply to post by Mr_XIM

More government = bad idea. If I want to shine 1,000,000 candle light bulbs from everylight and I am paying for it, no authoritive body has the right to tell me how bright my lights are? This topic is just silly. I agree, If the light is to bright drive somewhere where its dark.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 10:28 AM
Fortunately for the astronomers the prevailing trend is towards LED street lights. The light they give off is highly directional due to the LEDs having individual lenses that typically point down. The makers of LED street lights have developed technology to spread the beam out enough to provide good coverage like a regular light bulb would but they still have far superior light direction ability when compared to the old style lamps.

Here is a good example of this new technology: WorldTechLED

The price is high on these still but the cost of ownership is lower than conventional lamps which makes sense for municipal governments and electric utilities that own most of the existing lights. The above company makes a retrofit system that cost less then buying all new luminaries so as they get widely adopted the dark skies will return over the coming decade.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 10:53 AM
THis article is humorous and serious at the same time. There are a number of studies that show that light pollution is and can be a bad thing (tm) all around for everything, also that more lights do not = less crime.

On the other hand. 'we have a right to starlight' is simply laughable. im sorry, can someone point out where this right to starlight is, lest I start wishing to enforce my right to lingerie models and mexican TV hostesses delivered to my door daily?

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 11:02 AM
You don't have to be a professional to realize light pollution's negative effects.

If you go to the middle of the sea, you will know what I'm talking about.

It's too beautiful.

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 11:15 AM
If Starlight makes you happy, then by all means you have a right to pursue it - but one does not have a right to 'starlight'...

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 11:17 AM
reply to post by refuse_orders

I love watching the sky at night and I'm an avid astronomer. Over the years, it has become increasingly harder to see the stars due to urban sprawl. If people would just think about light pollution more when picking out their outdoor lighting, things would be much better.

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