Light Pollution

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Austrian village seeks UNESCO protection for its starry skies

Posted on May 10, 2010 by Noel


Vienna at night
Photographer: ursblick, 1/19/2009 8:39:04 AM

Article source

“Nestling in a hollow, and surrounded by low hills, the 1,600- strong community is shielded from what star lovers call “light pollution.” Grossmugl’s drive for heritage status was initiated in 2006 when a group of astronomers visited the village. “They said, ‘Could you please switch off the spotlights around the church, they are bothering us,’” local hobby astronomer and innkeeper Charly Schillinger says. To astronomers’ astonishment, the village authority obliged two years later. “They could hardly believe that there is a community where something like that is possible,” says mayor Karl Lehner.”

“Meanwhile, the citizens of Grossmugl are already implementing ideas to protect starlight that have been promoted by astronomers, UNESCO and other organizations over the past years. Street lamps that cast as little light as possible onto buildings and into the sky have been installed. Mayor Lehner also plans to offer “light consulting” by astronomers, who would advise citizens on how to avoid excess light. He also wants to develop low-key tourism projects geared towards stargazers.”

“We must protect the human right to see the Milky Way; the starry sky is a piece of cultural heritage that has been a source of knowledge for generations.” – Viennese astronomer Guenther Wuchterl

The small village of Grossmugl, located 40km (~25 miles) north of Vienna, believes the dark skies are fundamental to the human condition. These folks have their heart in the right place. Whilst the standards to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site are quite high, I imagine the residents of Grossmugl and Austria for that matter, will come together to make Grossmugl a world landmark.

As you can see from the photograph above, the Austrian capital Vienna offers very little in regards to sky gazing opportunities. Residents and tourists alike can expect to see an average of ~40 stars on a good night in the Vienna night sky. Compare the Vienna night sky to Grossmugl’s average of 5,000. That’s an enormous difference, especially considering how Grossmugl lies just ~25 miles north of Vienna. We at Starry Night Lights wish Grossmugl the best of luck, for your perseverance to achieve such a recognition due to your principles is heartwarming.

Let there be night!

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