Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Viva Darkness



Light pollution came onto my personal radar on 17 July 2008.  How can I be so specific about the date?  That was when I went to see Leonard Cohen at the O2 and he recorded the live album that you can hear me whooping on.  As I walked out of the arena after the show I was surprised to see that, unlike rural Devon, London no longer gets dark at night.  Instead it's bathed in a murky orange glow.   Okay it's not pitch black around here but you can still see stars.  It occurred to me that millions of people in the world not longer have the pleasure of perusing the Milky Way.  For them, my dear friends  Orion and the Great Bear are strangers.  That's pretty sad.

I'm a lover of the light but extreme darkness also has a lure.  My most vivid memories of being in pitch black come from wilderness hiking in the US and a stay at Lluc Monastery on Majorca.  There's something very comforting, like being cocooned.

Research for the post today has lead me to the website of the  International Dark-Sky Organisation. It's a fascinating source of information. Not only have I learnt about the adverse effects of bad lighting on eco-systems and human health, I now know of places where I can escape the glow, nearby Exmoor being one of them.  And there's useful stuff about doing our bit  and not becoming polluters ourselves.  As barbecue season looms the section on acceptable and unacceptable outdoor lighting seems particularly pertinent.  Food for thought peeps.
  


6 comments:

  1. A few years ago we visited friends in Dorset. Walking back from the pub at night was a revelation in regard to how many stars there are up there ! Milky Way and all. Beautiful. Here, in Harpenden, we can only see the brightest ones.

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    1. We can see a fair few here. Not like in the middle of the moor though! xx

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  2. I grew up very rurally and so was used to seeing lots of stars. I missed seeing the stars during the six years I lived in london !!
    Now in Cambridge which is an improvement on London.

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    1. I was so astonished by the lightness in London. Seattle too! And it's not a good glow. xx

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  3. We were in Ayrshire at the start of May and in a Dark Sky area so I was expecting to see spectacular skies. I didn't see anything of the sort - the place we stayed at had three sodium lights around the farm...

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    1. That's the thing. It doesn't take much focused light to pollute. xx

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