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Star gazing could become history, warns Macarthur Astronomical Society

Macarthur Astronomical Society has warned that light pollution from urban sprawl is a growing threat to the once spectacular night skies of the Macarthur region.

It has launched an awareness campaign on social media on what is up for grabs for future generations.

The society explains that light pollution is wasted energy that consists of glare from street lights, floodlights and general building lighting and uncontrolled light that indiscriminately escapes upwards and contributes to sky-glow.

The potential complete loss of the night sky to future generations that may grow up never to see the Milky Way or other magnificent night objects is among a list of concerns listed by the society.

“We are encouraged that the night sky has been heritage listed by the NSW National Trust,’’ says the society in a media statement.

“However we remain deeply concerned about the relentless spread of light pollution with continuing urban sprawl, the escalating loss of the cultural heritage that is our window on the universe and the unsustainable waste of energy and resources used to generate misdirected light.’’

The society also list financial loss to the public purse due to wasted energy, damage to the environment from burning of fossil fuels, dangers posed by uncontrolled glare to motorists and pedestrians and lack of awareness and understanding of the problem at all three tiers of government as other major concerns.

“We recognise the need for well designed public and private lighting to prevent accidents, fight crime and to facilitate general convenience.’’

Light pollution map: South West Sydney (2021); Courtesy

Macarthur Astronomical Society says bad lighting can be overcome by:

  • Stronger regulation and implementation of existing standards by our councillors and members of parliament.
  • Thoughtful design of building architecture, to reduce spillage.
  • Careful design of external lighting to eliminate glare and spillage.
  • A new inspection regime at local level.
  • Remedial action to replace or improve existing lighting.
  • Introduction of more electrical and mechanical energy control devices.

“We call upon our elected representatives, architects, building owners, lighting design engineers and the community in general to take heed of the implications of light pollution and to embrace strong measures to reverse the trend.’’

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