Bright light pollution a hindrance to the wonderful and majestic sight of the night sky

Septuagenarian astronomer Terry Dickinson, recently went home to his native Canada and was disappointed he could no longer revel in the nocturnal beauty due to pollution by bright city lights.

In order for him to relish the wonderful night view that he gazed upon as a child, Dickinson needs to travel two hour north of Toronto.

Dickinson says the younger generation who lives in large metropolitan cities of today is being deprived of the majestic and wonderful sight of the night sky.

“It just isn’t there, it’s been beaten back by the lights of civilization,” he added.

Fighting that kind of pollution has been an uphill clash for Dickinson and other astronomers who have unsuccessfully tried for years to get city administrators to reduce streetlight pollution.

A particularly frustrating mechanism is the switch to cheaper, but brighter light-emitting diodes LEDs.

Robert Dick, a Royal Astronomical Society of Canada member, has been leading a committee aimed at bright-light pollution reduction.

But city officials have been marketed by sellers that the low-cost LEDs “are the best thing since apple pie.”

“What they end up doing is buying extremely bad lighting that actually increases by literally a factor of two to three the amount of light pollution,” he said.

Dick emphasized that LEDs has the ability to decrease night vision because the white light interferes with a person’s eyesight, with some research presenting its impact on health.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada claims small victories against its war against light pollution.

A bylaw was adopted, in 2013, by Ste-Anne-De-Bellevue, on the western end of the island of Montreal, which led to 60 % street lighting changed to energy-efficient fixtures.

The town and about 20 parks over Canada have been officially designated “Dark Sky Preserves” by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for the last 15 years.

North Frontenac, spend $47,000 on a star-gazing observation pad and other facilities, made astro-tourism part of its economic development plan.

Mayor Ron Higgins admits the locals have mixed feelings, some think it’s a great idea, while others believe the money could have been spent on other better things.

But Higgins predicts that the dark-sky will be a huge attraction.

Ed Jager from Parks Canada noticed that nine of the astronomical group’s dark-sky preserves are national parks, including Alberta’s Wood Buffalo, Canada largest at about the size of Switzerland.

He observed that the Dark Sky Preserve is responsible in part for bringing tourists back to Canada’s national parks.

 

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