Light pollution hindering stargazing in UK

Written on:April 11, 2023
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The UK skies are saturated with light pollution, warned campaigners after a survey conducted by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS) found that half the population cannot see too many stars.

The annual Star Count survey, which was held across two weeks in January and February this year, involved 1,000 people in different locations around the UK. The online survey found that 53% of those taking part in the review could see less than 10 stars within the constellation of Orion. Around 9% of the participants were able to see 21 to 30 stars in the constellation. Of all, only 2% had dark skies above them, allowing them to mark out 31 or more stars on a clear night last year.

According to the survey, there is only slight reduction in the number of people living with severe light pollution compared to the previous year. In spite of several actions taken by authorities to reduce light pollution in some areas, the problem is still unchecked in most parts of the country. Around £529 million were spent on street lighting by local authorities in 2010, which accounts for 5% to 10% of each council’s carbon emissions, the campaigners informed.

“Of course we need the right, well-designed lighting in the right places - and some areas need to be lit for safety reasons - but there should not be a blanket assumption that glaring lights are needed. The evidence gathered during this year’s star count week shows that we need to take action now to roll back the spread of light pollution”, said Emma Marrington, rural policy campaigner at CPRE.

Saturating the night sky with unnecessary light not only blurs the distinction between town and country, but also disrupts wildlife and affect sleeping patterns of people, warned Emma. “Light pollution is a disaster for anyone trying to study the stars. It’s like a veil of light is being drawn across the night sky, denying many people the beauty of a truly starry night”, said Bob Mizon of the CfDS.

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