AAAP Light Pollution Pages

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Light Pollution Resources

Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC. Based on data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program
If you think that light pollution isn't a real problem, then you haven't been paying attention. This is a real satellite image of North America at night. Every photon recorded in this image, every ounce of coal or oil burned to generate the electricity to create it, was wasted; and worse yet, went towards obliterating the view of the nighttime sky that we humans have studied, wondered at, and cherished as part of our heritage for millenia. From the earliest farmers that relied on the appearance of certain stars to tell them when to plant and when to harvest, to the mechanical, global society that relies on standardized time to run smoothly, to the dreamers that are inspired to reach beyond our present knowledge and understanding by the beckoning of the distant galaxies; the nighttime sky is a part of who we are as humans.

The photons that went into making this image are just a fraction of the photons that were released, many were reflected by particles in the atmosphere, bouncing around to increase the general brightness of the sky. Where once a person with normal vision could see perhaps 2,500 stars in the sky at once, the sky from a city or suburban area is now brighter than most of those stars making them invisible. The grandeur that the shear number of stars visible created is lost. However, unlike so many other natural resources that have been irrevocably corrupted or consumed by the progress of modern technology, the nighttime sky is one that can be recovered. It is still there waiting for us, we only need to eliminate the ignorance of those who design buildings, roads, bridges, and "corporate identities" to the consequences of poorly designed and wasteful lighting. What is ultimately more important, to have the corporations that locate their headquarters in our cities continually reminding us of the fact with garish logos, or to pass onto to the next generation and the generations to follow, the human heritage that every one of us shares?



The Amateur Astronomers Assocation of Pittsburgh is in need of someone to take over the chairmanship of the Light Pollution Committee. Pete Zapdaka is filling in as interim, but someone needs to step forward and take on this vital role. Please email President @ to find out more details or volunteer.

Links to other light pollution pages

POLC Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council Maps, advice, and ordnances
IDA International Dark Sky Association Invaluable source for information
Night Lighting Environmental Building News Good article with lots of hard data and photographs
Light Pollution Awareness Website LiteLynx Loads of good photographic before and after images, good info.
Dark Sky Finder International Dark Sky Association Find how far you have to go to find dark skies
Slide Show Dark Skies Northwest Online slide show illustrating the causes and effects of light pollution