Can we solve the grow­ing prob­lem of light pol­lu­tion?

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Opin­ion -

A June 2018 www.nat­u­ral­ ar­ti­cle called “Light pol­lu­tion is a grow­ing prob­lem: What you can do” dis­cusses a cen­tury old phe­nom­e­non plagu­ing the de­vel­oped worlds.

For thou­sands of years, we man­aged with can­dles, fires and lanterns. How­ever, since the early 1900’s light pol­lu­tion has grown ex­po­nen­tially to af­fect 66% of the pop­u­la­tion as maps show Europe prac­ti­cally has no dark skies left, much like Ja­pan and East­ern North Amer­ica.

We in Western Canada are com­par­a­tively lucky and the fact is most of the geo­graphic world is still dark at night like the an­cients ex­pe­ri­enced.

Ac­cord­ing to colum­nist Joe Rao’s the harm­ful effects of light pol­lu­tion is not just on ca­sual stargaz­ing but “22,000 Gi­gawatt hours ($2.2 Bil­lion)” of elec­tric­ity an­nu­ally are wasted due to poorly de­signed street­lamps. Neg­a­tive effects on wildlife ac­cord­ing to a re­port from Ci­ in­cludes “Lights on sky­scrapers, air­ports, and sta­di­ums at­tract­ing birds into ur­ban ar­eas, where they smack into walls, win­dows, each other, or flap around even­tu­ally per­ish­ing from ex­haus­tion-re­lated com­pli­ca­tions.”

On hu­man life, it’s worse as it up­sets our in­ter­nal clock lead­ing up to and in­clud­ing can­cer. Rao points to so­lu­tions of proper shield­ing that di­rect all light down­wards where it’s nec­es­sary.

He also suggests switch­ing to “warm white LEDs,” with min­i­mal blue emissions and avoid us­ing ex­tra lights al­to­gether.

The less LED lights there are around, the bet­ter. I’ve had my farm lights off for 20 years and I love it.

An ex­cel­lent free doc­u­men­tary I’ve rec­om­mended for years is PBS’s “The City Dark”

Sky watch for the next month:

1. Bright Venus at Sun­set- Fri­day, Sept. 21 at sun­set look SW at around 7:30 p.m. to catch this be­fore it sets at 8 p.m.. If you have a good bi­nos, you can ac­tu­ally see it crest­ing like the Moon!

2. Har­vest Moon Rise-Mon­day, Sept. 24, look east at 7:40 p.m. for a spec­tac­u­lar up­surge which will seem huge.

3. Fall Equinox- On Satur­day, Sept. 22 at 7:54 p.m. the sum­mer’s of­fi­cially over.

4. Zo­di­a­cal Light- is a faint, roughly tri­an­gu­lar, whitish glow seen in the night sky ex­tended up from the vicin­ity of the sun along the eclip­tic or zo­diac. Dis­cov­ered by the as­tronomer Gio­vanni Domenico Cassini in 1683 and later ex­plained by Ni­co­las Fa­tio de Duil­lier in 1684, it’s try­ing to find and the best time is from Sept. 5 for two weeks in the east morn­ing twi­light. Pub­lic Events for the next month: Happy Fall and shorter days.

Neel Roberts is a mem­ber of the Cal­gary chap­ter of the Royal Astro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety of Canada-the na­tion’s lead­ing as­tron­omy club founded in 1868 with over 5,000 mem­bers and 29 cen­ters across Canada. Neel wel­comes your ques­tions and com­ments at (403) 5606574, www.ptc­ The mem­bers meet once a month on week­ends at Cal­gary’s Roth­ney Ob­ser­va­tory near Prid­dis and you can check out times at https://www.ucal­­en­dar. Like them at Face­book at https://www.face­ groups/272037680377/, Twit­ter https://twit­ Cal­gar­yRASC & YouTube­gary.


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