Why we’re losing our dark skies
‘Without intervention, our night sky and dark landscapes will continue to be lost under a veil of artificial light’
The Campaign to Protect Rural England’s annual cosmic census reveals that just one in 50 people now enjoy a truly dark sky. CPRE is calling for action to tackle light pollution and thus enable more people to enjoy the beauty of a starry sky.
A record 2,300 people took part in this year’s Star Count but only 2% of participants recorded seeing the wonders of a truly unpolluted dark sky full of stars. Light pollution caused by street lighting and other artificial lights, even in the countryside, was robbing the other 98% of the opportunity to fully enjoy this primal experience.
Star Count was supported by the British Astronomical
Association and star-spotters submitted the number of stars that they could see within the constellation of Orion. The results were used to create an interactive map displaying people’s view of the night sky. It clearly demonstrated the impact that light pollution is having on people’s view of the stars.
The results show just how far-reaching the glow from street lights and buildings can be. Light doesn’t respect boundaries, and careless use can see it spread for miles from towns, cities, businesses, motorways and other roads resulting in the loss of one of the countryside’s most magical sights – a dark, starry night sky and a dark rural landscape free from the urbanising impact of unsightly lights.
By using well-designed lighting only employed when and where it is needed, investing in street light dimming schemes and considering part-night lighting, councils have a fantastic opportunity to limit the damage caused by light pollution, reduce carbon emissions and save money.
As well as urging councils to do their bit to tackle light pollution in their local areas, through innovative lighting schemes, developing policies to control lighting in local plans and ensuring that new development does not increase local light pollution, CPRE is reaching out to the public to play their part too. By ensuring that security and outdoor lights are only turned on when and where they are needed, everyone can do their bit to limit light pollution.
Norfolk is still one of the ‘darkest’ counties in England and our residents in many parts of the county enjoy a glorious view of the night sky. Through its work with planners, councils, architects, Norfolk Constabulary, the Highways Agency, lighting engineers, businesses and householders, CPRE Norfolk has succeeded in reducing the impact of light pollution in our county but all this good work is threatened by the huge level of new planned housing development.
Light pollution also has negative impacts on the health of plants and animals – including humans and without intervention – our night sky and dark landscapes will continue to be lost under a veil of artificial light, to the detriment of our own health, and the health and beauty of the natural world.
CPRE Norfolk is holding its summer Aestival fair at Raveningham Gardens on July 28 from 10am
ABOVE: Very few of us have the chance to marvel at a truly dark sky at night Getty/iStiockphoto