154. A memorandum to us asked would people accept
the daytime blue sky being turned orange by pollution?
Many people in the United Kingdom may have been unaware
of the increase in light pollution. For some time now people living
in urban areas have been amazed by the "difference"
of the rural night sky to that viewed from towns or cities. However,
evidence has shown that uncontrolled light pollution is now reaching
the previously dark remote areas of countryside.
155. People have a right to feel safe and secure
in their homes, to travel safely on the roads at night and to
enjoy the amenities of the towns and cities where they live. Homes,
streets, sports facilities, and historic buildings can all be
lit effectively without the need to light up the night sky. Any
light spilling above the horizontal is causing sky glow and light
trespass and is preventing astronomical observations. It is also
wasting energy and causing distress to an increasing number of
156. We consider that the astronomical community
in this country is a particularly strong one and that it should
be encouraged by the Government. Amateur astronomers not only
support major professional projects through day to day observations,
but also donate much of their time to introducing the general
public and young people to the night sky, astronomy and through
that initial interest, very often into a physics career.
157. We have prepared this Report to emphasise the
importance of protecting astronomy as a science in this country.
If we are to invest heavily in observatories abroad, we must also
invest in the young scientists of today who will work in La Palma,
Hawaii, Australia and Chile in the future. It is worth protecting
the night sky for the use of astronomy pupils and students, amateurs
and professional astronomers alone. However, Professor Sir Martin
Rees provided an analogy when he pointed out that we may not all
be ornithologists but we would miss the song birds in our gardens.
158. The Government may not consider the effect
of light pollution on astronomy in the UK to be a pressing issue,
but amateur astronomers have taken on the issue on behalf of those
who mourn the loss of the night sky, not only astronomers but
also the general public, and those affected by the unwelcome intrusion
of light. If the Government accepts this Report's recommendations
it will start the process of reducing light pollution. In 20 years
time it might then be possible for young people studying astronomy
to see the Milky Way in the UK night skies once more.
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