How light pollution impacts us and the environment

Alex Lay from The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance explains the effects of light pollution and how we help fight it – 

If you look up at the sky above you tonight, what would you see? A lucky few of you reading this may see thousands of the twinkling lights we call stars, an opportunity to experience the sense of awe that many before us have felt. But, for most of us today living in urban areas, the sky may simply be dotted with a handful of those stars, sitting above a strange haze. That strange haze is known as light pollution.

With a background in wildlife conservation and biology, my immediate reaction to light pollution is the damaging effects it has on our species and our ecosystems. But, since becoming a youth ambassador at the Australasian Dark Sky Alliance, I’ve quickly learnt that the effects are much broader. Humans have been guided by the night sky for tens of thousands of years as they navigated the earth following a sky brimming with stars. It provided us with inspiration and perspective before we built our brightly lit cities of artificial light that have since been discovered to be harmful to our own health. Research suggests that exposure to artificial light at night has a range of negative effects on human health both mentally, through depression and sleep disorders, and physically, though risk of obesity, breast cancer and more. The effects on wildlife are even more clear. We now understand that light pollution can impact natural processes such as migration, pollination and reproduction in a wide array of animals and even plants. Many of us know the example of the adorable Mountain Pygmy Possum. Their numbers are dwindling and their main food source, the Bogong moth, is being lured away from the alpine regions by artificial city lights. But they are far from the only species falling victim to this damaging pollution. Nocturnal animals have their sleeping patterns disrupted, sea turtle hatchlings distracted by lights don’t find their way to the ocean and migratory birds end up far off course or collide with human made structures.

We are losing our connection with the night sky, many in my generation grow up in bright cities where we never see more than a handful of stars. We have to venture far away from urban centres to see a glimpse of the sky our ancestors once saw. Astronomers and Astro photographers will know just how far away we must go to see the wonders beyond our earth. It took me going half way around the world, to a remote part of Southern Africa to really see the sky in all its glory and to appreciate it and all that it provides us with. These dark sky areas are incredibly important, not just for us, but for our wildlife as well.

The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance (ADSA) is a not-for-profit organisation for the conservation of the night environment. ADSA aims to educate people from all walks of life about night sky conservation, as well as promote environmentally responsible outdoor lighting and provide the tools and resources to bring back the night. At ADSA, we can provide technical knowledge and best practice lighting solutions to encourage more of our region to become dark sky friendly, because, unlike other forms of pollution, light pollution can be easily and quickly reversed if we all make some important changes. Something as simple as switching off an outdoor light or closing household blinds can reduce the amount of artificial light leaking out into our environment.

ADSA has some very exciting projects in the works for 2022! Become a member to keep up to date with our work and help us spread awareness about the little-known but damaging effects of light pollution, because we can and should all make simple changes to bring back the beautiful night sky.

Sign up to become a member: https://www.joinit.org/o/australasian-dark-sky-alliance

Our website: https://www.australasiandarkskyalliance.org/

1 Comment. Leave new

  • >It took me going half way around the world, to a remote part of Southern Africa to really see the sky in all >its glory

    Why, when one third of Australia is as dark as it’s possible to get? A few hours drive from Sydney Harbour Bridge will get you to Bortle Class 1 skies. If you’re in Adelaide, less than 2 hours.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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

BIG Telescopes are on the way. Here’s some of them.

We’ve all be stunned by the images sent back by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – but what’s happening on the ground? First of all, let’s look at why astronomers go through such enormous effort to put telescopes into space. The complexities of designing a telescope to work in space, launching it into orbit…

JWST Image releases: What’s next?

The James Webb Space Telescope – JWST – is now fully operational and has released its first science images this week that grabbed the world’s attention. With the JWST now “Open for business”, the world’s best astronomers are lining up to use this powerful new instrument.  To use the JWST you must go through a…

Astrophotography – Starlight meets the computer

According to the American Astronomical Society, the  charged couple device or CCD   was born on 17 October 1969 at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey during a brain storming session between Willard Boyle and George Smith.  While it was originally intended as a solid state storage device, the imaging possibilities quickly became obvious. (Boyle…

Spotting Scopes and Binoculars – what’s the difference?

Most people are familiar with binoculars.  You might have even used a pair at the footy or cricket,  to watch  some of our wonderful native Australian birds and wildlife or even stare up the  night sky. We get many questions about when you should be using a spotting scope compared to binoculars. There’s no simple…

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…

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