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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Big Switch-off

The BBC's Stargazing Live programme last night spent some time focussing on the serious problem of light pollution. It's a subject close to my heart. For many years now I have taken a very amateur, and largely armchair based (I'm not fond of the cold!) interest in astronomy. We're fortunate enough to live in a non street-lit village, which should offer us great dark skies. Sadly there is a large conurbation to the south, whose sodium lighting robs us of the most interesting part of the night sky.
However even without that the people across the road from us light their property all night long with blindingly bright security lights. Not only does this make stargazing almost impossible but, because the lights are so bright, shaded areas are rendered an inky black because the eye has no chance to adapt to night vision. The human eye takes around fifteen minutes to adjust to dark conditions, but once it has, it's astonishing how much can actually be seen. Street lights and security lights mean that we never get the chance to use our eyes to their full astounding potential.
Try switching them off, please. Just try it. And give yourself a chance to experience the night as nature delivers it. You'd be amazed how much you'll see, from wildlife to the wonders of the universe. That's got to be worth switching the lights off for, hasn't it?

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