“Surabhi Gupta New Delhi, Nov 28 (PTI) There has been about five per cent increase in the phenomenon of ”light pollution” in Delhi this year as compared to last year, according to a new survey. Adverse effects of excessive artificial light including sky glow, light clutter, decreased visibility at night and energy waste are described as light pollution. A campaign — the Great Indian Star Count (GSIC) — was launched by Space Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), an NGO, from October 29 to November 12 to make people aware of value of pristine dark skies.
School Children, amateur astronomers and the public took part in it. Initial analysis of the observations made from GSIC shows that light pollution levels have been on the increase in almost all the big cities, SPACE President C B Devgun told PTI. Approximately five per cent increase in the light levels has been recorded in Delhi, he said. More than 1,000 records of observations from 30 locations across the country were taken into account while compiling the data, he said. Due to light pollution, sky-gazers in Delhi miss nearly 97 per cent of stars which are visible to the naked eye as compared to their counterparts living in remote areas close to the national capital. Javer and Sakras, around 120 kms from Delhi, had much darker skies as compared to the national capital. Observers there were able to count many more stars (about 7 to 15) in the given constellation Cygnus than observers in cities like Delhi who could manage only 0 to 4, showing the effect light pollution has on celestial observation, he said.
GISC is a scientific survey to quantify light pollution by counting number of stars that can be seen in the sky. It is a campaign for better use of lighting in day-to-day lives, efficient use of electricity and saving of energy, he said. SPACE is conducting the programme in India on behalf of Great Worldwide Star Count this year. GISC has been conducted for several years as part of ”Project Dark Skies” to increase awareness of how light pollution affects visibility, he said. Great Worldwide Star Count recommends a method of counting stars where an observer looks at known constellations like Cygnus, the swan, and tries to spot how many stars from this constellation can actually be seen in their sky.
The light pollution obscures the stars in the night sky for city dwellers, interferes with astronomical observatories, and, like any other form of pollution, disrupts ecosystems and has adverse health effects. Light pollution sources include building exterior and interior lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights, and illuminated sporting venues. It is most severe in highly industrialised, densely populated areas of India.”
This is a reality nearly all of us on Earth are experiencing: light pollution is on the rise. A five percent increase may seem insignificant to most but consider the roughly 12 million people residing in Delhi. In addition, consider residents residing nearby, many of whom experience light trespass from Delhi. Fortunately, interest groups such as the Great Indian Star Count GISC and Space Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) exist as entities to collect data as well as inform the public of its findings. By doing so, we, the public can educate ourselves about light pollution and adaptable solutions to solve this growing crisis. We can do it!
Let there be night!