January 16, 2009

A Study Finds Light Pollution Blocks out Stars

A survey suggests that a growing number of people are unable to see the night sky because of glare from poorly designed outdoor lights in built up areas.

In an attempt to study these conditions, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the British Astronomical Association had some 1,829 members of the UK public counting stars for the study.

During the study, they were asked to focus on the constellation of Orion, one of the most easily identified.

There are about 50 of Orion's stars that could be seen with the naked eye in a truly dark sky.

However, only 2% of the respondents said they could see more than 30, with 54% saying they saw fewer than 10 stars in Orion.  This level indicates severe light pollution.

This online survey took place on the nights of December 20-24 of 2006, and January 14-21.

Both dates the moon was not visible in the evening sky, which meant that the maximum number of stars were potentially visible.

The results show that light pollution is blotting out that stars across much of the country, according to CPRE and the BAA's Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS).

Campaigners say that light pollution does not just stop in towns and cities, but spreads from built-up areas into the countryside.

Bob Mizon, CfDS UK co-ordinator said, "In an era when energy considerations loom every larger, it makes a lot of sense to direct lights carefully and use sensible wattages, not just to reclaim our view of the stars, but also to cut pollution and help ensure our energy stocks for the future."


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Campaign for Dark Skies