Astronomers from around the world are advocating for international agreements to address the issue of satellite constellations causing light pollution in space. The proliferation of these satellite networks is threatening the integrity of scientific research and raising concerns about the loss of dark skies.
In the United Kingdom, calls are being made for new planning regulations to protect the nation’s dark skies. The urbanization of England has led to a significant reduction in star visibility, with an estimated 10 percent loss of skies in the last decade. This loss not only affects humans but also hampers nature’s ability to thrive in natural darkness.
Dark sky consultants, like Dan Oakley, are working to reduce light pollution. They emphasize that dark skies are crucial for humanity to connect with the universe and contemplate existential questions. Megan Eaves, editor of the magazine “Nightscape,” underscores the cultural importance of starry nights, as they have inspired art, music, and cinema throughout history.
In addition to the cultural aspect, activists argue that light pollution has adverse health effects. Exposure to artificial light at night disrupts the circadian rhythm, affecting melatonin production, which can lead to various mental health problems and illnesses.
Concerns about light pollution have intensified with the increase in satellite constellations. Astronomers, including Robert Massey, Deputy Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society, highlight the impact of low Earth orbit satellites on scientific research. Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites are particularly concerning due to their growing number and potential to disrupt telescopic observations.
Satellite companies are attempting to address light pollution by using different coatings and solar shades to minimize sunlight reflection. However, with plans for future satellite launches, the problem of light pollution from space is expected to worsen. China, for example, is considering launching a constellation of 13,000 satellites.
As light pollution spreads throughout Europe, finding dark spaces becomes increasingly challenging. Dark sky reserves in national parks are cherished places where people can still experience the beauty of the night sky. However, development and the construction of new cities threaten these reserves.
Communities, national parks, and governments need to make efforts to implement guidelines that promote responsible lighting practices and minimize the negative impact of artificial light on dark skies.
– Original article