Light Pollution
Intelligent lighting

Public participation
Dark Sky Initiatives
Cultural Heritage
Environment protection
Light pollution
Climate Change
The right to the stars

The Sky Quality Protection Technical Office (OTPC)

Astronomy-clear skiess


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.

The 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 interiors.

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.

Main initiatives 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.
More 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.
More information (CieloBuio Web site)...>

Light 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.
More information...>

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.
More 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 night environment.
More information...>

CELFOSC (Catalunya-Spain)
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 resources.
More information...>


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).
More information....>

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.
More information...>

Irish Light Pollution Awareness Campaign

Created in 2003 with the aim to promote awareness of light pollution and working to reduce bad lighting.
More information...>

The 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.
More information...>

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.
More information...>

German dark sky initiative: "Initiative gegen lichtverschmutzung" (renewed).
More information...>

Other initiatives of interest

Globe at Nigtht
International event to observe the nighttime sky and learn more about light pollution around the world.
More information...>

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.
More information...>

EuP project. Dark Sky eco-labelling in the lighting industry.

The study is a result of the EU directive for eco-design of Energy-using Products (EuP), Directive 2005/32/EC.
More information...>


ILLUMINA project
Heterogeneous modelling of light pollution induced sky luminance
More information...>


"Dark Sky Communities" discussion group.
More information...>


German dark sky initiative. Initiative gegen lichtverschmutzung.
More information...>

Light Pollution in Flanders, Belgium...>
The Citizens for Responsible Lighting (CRL)...>
Edmonton's Dark Sky Preserve Initative...>
Lichtverschmutzung in Österreich...>
Groupe 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

The new 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.

Read more...>

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