Interesting observations about our diminishing night sky were made by Charles Clover in a recent article in the Times Online. The article describes the concern of Royal Observatory astronomer Marek Kukula. He worries about the public’s lack of concern for light pollution. Kukula describes the indifference as a lack of understanding on behalf of the public when it comes to light pollution. Clover feels frustration as well, and understands the plight of public officials who fail to take light pollution into account when approving planning applications.
Afterward, these unsuspecting officials can only observe powerlessly as the sky fades. As a former insider on a planning committee, Charles Clover understands how proposals go through without mentioning the light pollution they plan on worsening. On his side of the world, he acknowledges the aftermath of these failures as he observes the intrusion of excess light obstructing the night sky and disturbing others. From Clover’s point of view, the light pollution he “rubber stamped” is uniting with the orange glow of other towns affected by light pollution.
It is understandable why any public official would be distressed over such a loss. The orange glow of light pollution is no substitute for the brilliant constellations it trespasses upon. In the article, Charles Clover provides some excellent pointers for city planners to consider when they review proposals. Potential light pollution should be considered a factor, even if it’s unstated in the proposal. Official recognition of light pollution needs to take place. Dark sky legislation should be introduced to ensure that lighting systems are updated. A schedule to dim the lights in accordance with bird migrations is necessary. Reducing the impact of excess light on the night sky should be a priority.
The world has the option to acknowledge light pollution as a nuisance comparable to other types of pollution. Citizens should not have to leave their cities to view the night sky when a little planning could return the constellations to their neighborhood. Inaction could see Charles Clover’s predictions of a disappearing night sky become a reality if the status quo remains. Hopefully his resolution to address light pollution will be one everyone will adopt.