An Inky Black Continent – An Update on Light Pollution in Australia by Marnie Ogg

Pictured: Perth as seen from the International Space Station (via National Geographic)

An Inky black continent

Light pollution has hit the radar and Australia now has two International Dark-Sky places. One in NSW National Park, the Warrumbungles another in Queensland, at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs and a few in various states of creation. Increasingly, lighting companies are marketing dark sky luminaires and policy-makers are drafting good lighting guidelines.

Earlier this year, Northern Beaches Council unanimously agreed to investigate the creation of an Urban Night Sky Park at Barrenjoey Headland, (a new concept in the range of International Dark-sky Association Dark Sky Places) and, this month, Councillor Robertson successfully moved the motion to turn off some street lights in Byron Bay, after years of gentle advocacy by Dylan O’Donnell. Even NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes got in on the act, in parliament, sharing his dream of having all New South Wales able to see the night sky.

Byron Bay’s mayor Simon Richardson recently moved a motion unanimously through council to investigate the reduction of light pollution.

With help from many of you, over 4500 students made the news earlier this month, when they entered a Dark Sky School competition to understand and reduce light pollution. Mentors from local astronomy groups, lighting industry groups and ecology institutions supported teams of 4, to come up with innovative ideas to mitigate the effects. Young Australians are now night-light savvy – and no doubt driving their parents insane with requests to change globes.

The growing trend is for lighting companies to engage councils to reduce their carbon footprint and upward light spill by implementing fully shielded LED streetlights. The message for saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions has hit the bottom line and we’re seeing streetlights rollout across the country that reduce upward light-spill.

Yay! Good news for astronomers, right? As skyglow reduces the stars should come out again, but now the issue is being pushed downwards, with nocturnal wildlife behaviours impacted as brighter, more powerful light is directed downwards. Just ask the Bogong Moth, who may be being distracted by lights in Canberra on the migratory flight from Queensland, therefore not making it to their summer home in the alpine regions. The endangered Pygmy Possum are then robbed of their natural food source, resulting in the up to 95% of young dying in their mothers’ pouch.

A number of hard-working individuals and organisations (IDA Chapters, Solis, Urban Light Lab, Dylan O’Donnell, to name but a few) have been doing their bit, but when asked of the challenges, they all spoke of isolation and fatigue of breaking new ground. As a result, The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance, or ADSA was formed to give a local focus to Dark Sky protection, education and advocacy. Distinct from the IDA it closely aligns with them, to support and promote the IDA Dark Sky Places certification program and education resources. Western-Australian based Dr Kellie Pendoley, is the Vice President of the IDA and a founding board member of ADSA and provides the link between the two.

The issue of Artificial Light at Night is not a simple one, but the more we talk about it, the more people, clubs and councils engage with it, the better. List your observatory with the ASA and join us in creating more dark sky places. Dealing with light pollution does not mean living in the dark, but living in a continent that is not visible at night by the ISS is a good start!

Marnie Ogg
Founder Australasian Dark Sky Alliance

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

Astrophotography – Revealing the Universe

In the last blog post available here we covered how astronomers gradually used new discoveries in photographic techniques to not just record what could be seen at the telescope’s eyepiece but to capture even fainter details than humans could perceive. Like new technologies tend to do, once photography became commonly available advances in materials and…

Harmonic Drive Telescope Mounts

What do the ZWO AM5, the iOptron HEM27 telescope mounts and the wheels of the Apollo Lunar Rover have in common? They’re all driven by a Harmonic Drive. There’s been a lot of excitement about the recent announcement of affordable telescope mounts using Harmonic Drives.  These mounts offer some features that make them of great…

📷 Astrophotography – The Early Days

Humans have produced star maps, charts, drawings and other records of the unchanging night sky above us going back to ancient times. However,  even the most talented artists were limited to what could be seen with their eyes. Early pioneers of using the telescope for astronomy quickly discovered they needed to record and share their…

⊚ The Changing Rings of Saturn

Saturn takes 29 years to orbit the Sun. The view we see of it rings changes during this time for the same reason we have seasons. Like the Earth, Saturn is on a tilt.  Image of Saturn’s changing rings by Kevin Parker When you take your telescope out to view Saturn this winter, you might…

⚫️ First Image of Our Super Massive Black Hole

Image of the super massive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way released by a global research team EHT Collaboration 12th May 2022.  Our home galaxy, The Milky Way, has long thought to contain a super massive black hole. This is something observed not just in the Milky Way, but in many other…

How many stars can I see in the night sky?

How many stars can you count? Have you ever been under a completely dark night sky, on a night with no Moon light?  There’s nothing quite like that carpet of stars that stretches from horizon to horizon with the cloudy Milky Way running through the middle. But just how many stars can you see at…

Electronically Assisted Astronomy (EAA) – An Intro

Q: Can I view what I see through my telescope on a tablet or PC screen? A: Yes. There’s a number of ways to do this. Let’s explain how. This is one of the most asked questions we encounter! The process of attaching a digital camera to a telescope instead of an eyepiece and then…

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2022

For International Women’s Day 2022 we’re celebrating the journeys and skills of a wide range of Astronomers Mary Toki I stumbled across Trevor Jones (Astro backyard) deep space pictures a few years back. I was completely mesmerised by his images and could not believe this was taken by somebody from their backyard! I thought I’d…

Intro to Microscope types

Microscopes: Discovering the hidden world In much the same way telescopes helped us expand our knowledge of the universe by letting us see things that are beyond our view due to their vast distances, the close relative of the telescope – the microscope – has had even more impact on our lives by revealing the…

Milky Way Season. The perfect time for Star Tracker Mounts

Did you know that you can use your current DSLR for taking spectacular astrophotos without the need to buy a telescope? And what’s more, we’re coming into the perfect time of the year to do just that! Image by Cory Keating – Nikon D5100 and Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mount Even basic DSLR cameras and lenses…

Shopping cart
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping
0