Here’s another international example of people struggling to bring dark sky lighting to the world. Although the situation isn’t as bad as some other European countries, Poland is developing rapidly, and as the country expands, so too will the amount of light created. In no time, they too will be faced with the increasing challenge of balancing city development with the desire to see the stars.
Apparently, astronomers involved in Polaris, an astronomy organisation from Sopotnia Wielka in southern Poland, started to draw attention to the issue of overly-illuminated skies in 2004. Progress has been steady, starting with participation in events such as Globe at Night, and moving into public awareness campaigns that have achieved some good results.
There are some locations in Poland, Sywiec and Katowice, to name two, that have worked to make dark skies more accessible to those looking at the stars. These two light-sensitive areas actually turn off their streetlights from midnight to 4 am, making star gazing perfect in those areas.
However, not all locales are as progressive. In some urban centers, like Sopotnia Wielka and Swinna, similar changes have not yet taken place, making star gazing very difficult. These areas, most of which are equipped with old-fashioned, high-pressure sodium lights which waste a lot of energy and create a lot of light trespass, are still working to convince the public that darker skies are beneficial, and that they won’t compromise peoples’ safety.
It remains to be seen whether local officials will see the light—the benefits of installing more efficient, full cut-off street lights as they develop. Thankfully, countries like these have huge potential when it comes to making forward-thinking development choices for public lighting. Let’s hope they’re able to put good lighting design practices in place before too many inefficient fixtures are installed.