It may seem harmless, but light pollution has far-reaching consequences that are harmful to all living things. Effective outdoor lighting reduces light pollution, leading to a better quality of life for all. The dark sky movement is working to bring better lighting to communities around the world so that all life can thrive.
Join us this International Dark Sky Week to learn more about the movement, and discover the night where you live.
WHAT IS LIGHT POLLUTION?
Any artificial light that is not needed is a pollutant that has serious and harmful consequences.
Light pollution can:
- disrupt wildlife
- impact human health
- waste money and energy
- contribute to climate change
- block our view of the universe
Light pollution is increasing at 2x rate of population growth and 83% of the global population lives under a light-polluted sky.
Light pollution from unshielded lights
A lot of the outdoor lighting used at night is inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded, and in many cases, completely unnecessary. This light and the electricity used to create it are being wasted because it spills into the sky rather than being focused on the objects and areas that people need illuminated.
Cityscape to the Milky Way
With much of the Earth’s population living under light-polluted skies, over lighting is an international concern. If you live in an urban or suburban area all you have to do to see this type of pollution is go outside at night and look up at the sky. Notice what you don’t see?
Harmful effects on wildlife
Light pollution harms mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, and reptiles. It can decrease reproduction, disrupt migration, increase predation, and more.
Bad, better, best outdoor lighting
Use outdoor lighting responsibly by only using it where it’s needed, when it’s needed, in the amount required, and no more. Make sure to use the lowest light level required, limit the amount of shorter wavelength (blue-violet) light, utilize controls (such as timers or motion sensors), and use shielding to target the light, so it does not spill beyond where it is needed.
The image above illustrates the different components of light pollution and what “good” lighting looks like.
What is light pollution costing us?
IDA has created the infographic below breaking down the data on the amount of energy and money wasted due to bad lighting in an easy-to-understand manner 👇
What you can do:
The International Dark-Sky Association promotes win-win solutions that allow people to appreciate dark, star-filled skies while enjoying the benefits of responsible outdoor lighting.
Everybody can do something to stop light pollution and this image below explains exactly what YOU can do with simple solutions to help protect the night sky 👇
Developed jointly by the International Dark-Sky Association and Illuminating Engineering Society, these five simple principles for responsible outdoor home lighting show how you can protect nocturnal wildlife, be a good neighbor, and preserve the night sky 👇
There exist several mobile apps that can help reduce light pollution 👇
- Dark Sky meter App (iphones)
The Award winning Dark Sky Meter by DDQ helps you measure the night sky brightness with the press of a button. Get instant information about the night sky quality and contribute to create a global map of sky darkness.
- Loss of the Night App (iPhones and Androids)
The Loss of the Night app turns your eyes into a light meter, allowing you to become a citizen scientist and report how bright the night sky is where you live!
- F.lux (available forMac OS/X, Windows, Linx, iPhones and iPads)
f.lux is a color temperature app that makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. It makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again.
- Twilight (for smartphones or tablets)
The Twilight app makes your device screen adapt to the time of the day. It filters the flux of blue light emitted by your phone or tablet after sunset and protects your eyes with a soft and pleasant red filter. The filter intensity is smoothly adjusted to the sun cycle based on your local sunset and sunrise times.
“Losing the Dark” Film
Watch and share this six-minute short film on light pollution by IDA. It’s accessible in more than 15 languages and available in flatscreen or fulldome versions.
Artificial light at night has revolutionized the way we live and work outdoors, but it has come at a price. When used indiscriminately, outdoor lighting can disrupt wildlife, impact human health, waste money, and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view of the universe.
What is International Dark Sky Week?
International Dark Sky Week (IDSW) is a celebration that occurs once a year with the goal to raise awareness around the harms and realities of light pollution and promote the preservation of dark skies whenever and wherever possible. This year, in 2023, IDSW takes place from Saturday, April 15th to Saturday, April 22nd. During the week, night sky lovers from around the world are encouraged to participate in activities that celebrate the beauty of the night sky and advocate alongside astronomers, environmentalists, and policy makers for the protection of our natural nighttime environment.
With technological advances in recent years, the issue of light pollution has increased alongside our world becoming more urbanized and industrialized. Artificial light is increasingly found flooding parking lots and streets at night, in turn obscuring the view of the stars, disrupting natural ecosystems, and affecting human health. Since our view of the night sky is now dependent on our location and the light pollution attributed to the area where our home resides, IDSW provides an opportunity for people worldwide to learn about the impacts of light pollution and take action to reduce it.
The International Dark-Sky Association
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