News Stories

Light Pollutes Too

In Hong Kong, astronomers who want to observe the stars and planets must travel to a remote village in the dead of night. Some have rented top-floor apartments in Hong Kong?s New Territories so they can gaze at the stars.

A huge amount of outdoor lighting makes the night can appear like day. ?The light, it lights up the sky so we cannot see a lot of the stars,? says Yeung Chi Hung, of the Hong Kong Astronomical Society.

To solve this problem, astronomers are trying to change the way buildings are lit. Often the light source is at the base of a building, with a beam that points upward. Experts say it should be the other way around.

?You get to the high point and you illuminate light there shining down to the building, down to the streets,? says H. F. Chau, of Hong Kong?s Polytechnic University. Another proposal is to keep certain zones of the city dark by having a policy that restricts lights in those areas.

Hong Kong?s Environmental Protection Department only focuses on common forms of pollution like water, noise, and air pollution -- not light pollution. Astronomers say that if nothing?s done soon, Hong Kong?s night sky will appear to be starless within 10 years. Says Chau, ?These stories [about stars] will become just paper stories rather than something you can really experience when we look at the summer sky.?

To see how light pollution is spread across the Earth, click here.

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