Light pollution is the popular
name for sky glow - a brightening of the night sky caused by
artificial light being scattered by small particles in the
air such as water droplets and dust. Light pollution also
includes light intruding into our homes, such as a bright
street light outside a bedroom window.
current outdoor lighting model favours dazzling, in the mistaken belief that an excess of
light increases visibility for citizens, when in reality, the result is precisely the
opposite. Supporters of the electric night base their thirst for illumination on concepts
which have been shown in hundreds of studies to be erroneous and socially useless:
concepts such as false security, expressed in the statement that profusely lit cities or
roads make for safe cities, or the tendency to confuse light excess with standards of
living, prosperity or wealth. Whatever the case, even accepting these arguments, it is
utterly senseless to illuminate the sky by using inefficient and technically crude designs
and lighting concepts, when the idea is to illuminate the ground, enclosed spaces or house
The inability to focus light where it is needed is just as unintelligent as being unable
to select the right light intensity for each situation, for an over-illuminated atmosphere
can be even less safe, and obviously more unpleasant, than a rationally-lit area.
But if the procedures are observed from the point of view of energy consumption, the
contradictions of our current outdoor lighting model can be perceived even more clearly.
Avoiding light-pollution of the sky is one of the few environmental questions with an
economically viable solution, especially when the concept of energy efficiency is added to
that of eliminating useless lighting. Most experiments involving the
replacement of conventional public lighting with adequately-shaded lamps focussed where
illumination is required, and having the additional benefit of low energy consumption,
have shown that overall power consumption is reduced between 25 and 30%. Such a reduction
not only affects the cost and sustainable management of energy resources, but obviously
also has environmentally positive effects connected with reductions in greenhouse-effect
gas emissions into the atmosphere which, as we know, constitute another detrimental factor
affecting the quality of the night sky. The positive effect is further increased if very
low-polluting lamps are employed, such as low pressure sodium vapour models, rather than
environmentally harmful ones, such as the mercury vapour or metal halide type.
The enjoyment of a dark sky therefore has a lot to do with our concept of rational energy
use, not only in matters of intelligent lighting management, but also in aspects concerned
with decisions regarding transport, or renewable energy options, which directly affect
atmospheric quality. Thus, it could be stated that an energetically sustainable community
is a community capable of enjoying the night sky.
and organisations involved in light pollution and night sky defence.
International Dark-Sky Association
It is the first and most representative organisation created to fight against light
pollution, with several sections and thousands of members all around the world.
The mission of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is to preserve and protect the
nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting.
1. Stop the adverse effects of light pollution on dark skies, including
- Energy waste and the air and water pollution caused by energy waste
- Harm to human health
- Harm to nocturnal wildlife and ecosystems
- Reduced safety and security
- Reduced visibility at night
- Poor nighttime ambience
2. Raise awareness about light pollution, its adverse effects, and its solutions
3. Educate everyone, everywhere, about the values of quality outdoor lighting
4. Help stop other threats to our view of the universe, such as radio frequency
interference (RFI) and space debris.
information (IDA Website)...>
Coordinamento per la protezione del cielo notturno (Italia)
CieloBuio (Coordinamento nazionale per la protezione del cielo notturno) is an Italian
non-profit organization created in 1997, whose goal is defending the night sky by
promoting the culture of an eco-compatible lighting and conducting information campaigns
on light pollution.
(CieloBuio Web site)...>
Pollution Abatement Program (Canada)
The goal of the RASC Light Pollution Abatement Program (LPAP) is to reduce the levels of
light pollution in urban and rural areas by advising Federal, Provincial and Municipal
governments and departments along with business and concerned citizens to take action to
reduce unnecessary glare, uplight and light trespass.
International Commission on Illumination
As its name implies, the International Commission on Illumination
-abbreviated as CIE from its French title Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage- is an
organization devoted to international cooperation and exchange of information among its
member countries on all matters relating to the science and art of lighting.
information (CIE Website)...>
Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute (Italia)
The Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute (ISTIL- Istituto di Scienza e
Tecnologia dell'Inquinamento Luminoso) is a no-profit Italian organization with the aim of
developing and promoting the scientific research on light pollution, and developing and
spreading technologies and methods to limit light pollution and its adverse effects on the
Created en 1996, Cel Fosc is an open and independent citizens' association aiming to
raise awareness among the local society to improve both private and public lighting
systems: A better lighting respecting the environment and guaranteeing a better use o
Association Nationale pour la Protection du Ciel Nocturne (France)
In 1995 the Comité Inter Associatif (C.I.A.),
made up of the Société Astronomique de France (S.A.F), the Association Française d'Astronomie (A.F.A) and the Association Nationale Sciences Techniques Jeunesse (A.N.S.T.J.), helped by
the Société Astronomique de Bourgogne (S.A.B) created the Comité National de Protection du Ciel Nocturne
(National Committee for the Protection of Night Sky).
The British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies
The CfDS aims to preserve and
restore the beauty of the night sky by campaigning against excessive, inefficient and
irresponsible lighting that shines where it is not wanted nor needed.
Irish Light Pollution Awareness Campaign
Created in 2003 with the aim to promote awareness of light pollution and working to reduce
European Greenlight Programme
GreenLight is an on-going voluntary programme whereby private and public organisations
commit towards the European Commission to reducing their lighting energy use, thus
reducing polluting emissions. GreenLight was launched in February 2000.
The Institution of Lighting Engineers (ILE) is the UK and
Ireland's largest and most influential professional lighting
association, dedicated solely to excellence in lighting.
dark sky initiative: "Initiative gegen
Other initiatives of interest
International event to observe the nighttime sky and learn more about light pollution
around the world.
ELI - Efficient Lighting Initiative
The Efficient Lighting Initiative, an international program for certifying the
quality and efficiency of lighting products. It is operated by a non-profit organization,
the ELI Quality Certification Institute, for the benefit of end users, policymakers, and
lighting suppliers worldwide.
EuP project. Dark Sky eco-labelling in the lighting
The study is
a result of the EU directive for eco-design of Energy-using
Products (EuP), Directive 2005/32/EC.
Heterogeneous modelling of light pollution induced sky luminance
"Dark Sky Communities"
dark sky initiative. Initiative gegen lichtverschmutzung.
Light Pollution in Flanders, Belgium...>
Citizens for Responsible Lighting (CRL)...>
Edmonton's Dark Sky Preserve Initative...>
Lichtverschmutzung in Österreich...>
de recherche et d'applications en physique au CEGEP de Sherbrooke...>
30 August, 2007
The Government of the
Republic of Slovenia Passes a Light Pollution Law
Law is expected to have numerous positive impacts. It
prohibits lighting above the horizon into space for most
luminaries and demands the use of totally shielded ones.