Although we are quite happy with all these lights around that illuminate and brighten our cities and streets every night, we do not know the undesirable effects of these lights e.g light pollution.
Like the pollution of many kinds – air pollution, noise pollution, water pollution, and land pollution – there is also a type of pollution that is almost neglected.
Astronomers call it – light pollution!
Light pollution is an excessive and artificial light that goes up in the horizon, thereby artificially lighting up the dark night sky and preventing it from exhibiting its own starlight.
The General Types of Light Pollution
Despite interfering with our everyday lives – we are unable to cope up with light pollution. The main types of light pollution are the following:
- Light Trespass
Glare is any form of unshielded light. It causes scattering of light, thereby causing loss of contrast in the human eye.
Light Trespass occurs when unwanted or undesirable light reflects in an area that does not require it. For example, the light coming into your bedroom from a neighbors home, particularly when you are trying to sleep.
Skyglow is mostly present in urban and densely populated areas. It involves all the reflected and unshielded light that goes up into the sky.
Is Light Pollution Really Dangerous?
Light pollution is equally as alarming as it is any other type of pollution. We are mostly unknown of the fact that the lights that we use to light up our surroundings only serve their purpose to a minimal extent – the rest is only lost.
The lost part of the lights emit in the sky, above on the horizon, brightens the night sky – which actually causes Light pollution making us unable to watch a lot of things in the night sky that we could otherwise.
Research to Find Out the Possible Causes of Pollution
Almost everyone wants to have a clear sky – and bring back the stars to the city skies, just like the old times. Of course, nobody wants to miss such a breath-taking sight.
However, to achieve this, we have to find out the reasons for light pollution.
According to a survey, 99% of the USA’s pollution is living under a light-polluted sky, and as a consequence, 80% of the Americans are not able to see the Milky Way.
Apart from causing Light pollution – that might not be as important to some people as it is to the astronomers, excess light means wasted light, wasted energy, more greenhouse gases, and a large sum of wasted money.
Is Reducing Light from Streetlights the only Solution?
The researchers have spent a significant amount of time pondering the causes and reasons contributing to light pollution. To our surprise, they have found out that the figures range widely between 12% to 80%. However, these stats are a bit far from being authentic.
In a city of Arizona, the researchers carried out the research by converting street lights to an LED light that dimmed them – decreasing light pollution coming from the street lights. They also connected them with a smart city control system.
They used Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite that is designed to detect the amount of visible and infrared light transmitting from the Earth. After conducting a series of experiments by dimming and brightening the light at several nights – they concluded that the street lights played a very minute role in the light pollution.
Why Do We Want to Reduce Sky Brightness?
Some people are not very concerned with light pollution and consider “all well” and lovely to look at. At the same time, they want to have a night sky full of bright shiny stars.
Unfortunately, the universe’s comparative nature suggests that you get to dim the lights on Earth to see the light in the sky. Otherwise, you will not be able to look at the far off stars in the deep sky.
Moreover, many threats come with the over-illumination that’s too lovely to look at. It not only affects the Astronomers but disrupts the natural ecosystem. The rhythm of life is maintained by the innate patterns of dark and light phases; disturbing these phases can have severe effects on ecosystems
- Disturb the migration patterns of animals and birds
- Change the way animals interact with each other
- Affect the predator-prey relationship of animals
- Contributes to wasting a lot of energy
- Deprive the night skies of the natural starlight
- Interfere with the Astro-researches carried out with the telescopes
How Does Light Pollution Interfere with Astronomy?
Astronomy is a vast field – for some people, playing around with Telescopes is just fun and a hobby, while some people find their professional careers in it. Certain reflective telescopes help the astronomers to look deep into the skies and find out and research about celestial objects.
However, with a lot coming from light pollution – it also makes the night sky much brighter than usual. It decreases the contrast of the images that are viewed through the Telescope.
Moreover, it might lead to the waning and fainting of certain galaxies and nebulae that are already not very bright and clear. Thus, the overly lit sky does not view some of the faint stars that are a matter of interest for the Astronomers.
Astronomers usually prefer to move to remote locations where there are less lighting, haze, and pollution – it provides them better views when looking from the Telescope.
However, apart from the Telescope, if we reduce the light glares, I assure we will see a better sky even with our naked eyes.
Steps Towards Reducing Light Pollution
The easiest way to do so is changing streetlights to LEDs that are relatively less havoc. Moreover, dimming them after midnight might at least decrease the pollution by 30%.
Although it’s not quite significant, we will definitely reach higher percentages starting from the smaller ones. Other ways of reducing light pollution include the following:
- Shielding the lights
- Reducing billboard advertising
- Parking lights
- The light coming from the vehicles
- Educate the general public
- Preach the idea of “turn off excessive lights.”
- Take practical steps at management levels.
In the presence of the Light Pollution, no matter how powerful and robust your Telescope is – you are going to suffer from some consequences.
However, certain instruments and accessories can help you see through the bright sky, such as different Scientific Nebula filters. They come in different versions and can complement your Reflective and Hubble Telescope effectively.