2022 was named the best year for stargazing in the UK since 2011, according to the results of a new study conducted by the charity CPRE. Light pollution in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since CPRE began its annual survey more than a decade ago.
According to the study, the peak of light pollution occurred in 2020, and then decreased in 2021, when jobs were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, light pollution has continued its downward trend, as more and more people continue to work from home, and rising energy prices in Europe are forcing them to save on lighting.
Every year CPRE enlists the support of scientists to “count the stars”. This year, more than 2,500 participants counted the number of stars they saw in the night sky in their area between February 26 and March 6, 2022. They were asked to find stars in the constellation of Orion, recognizable by the three bright luminaries that make up its belt. Severe light pollution, as defined by CPRE, occurs when 10 or fewer stars can be seen with the naked eye.
Back in 2020, 61% of participants reported severe light pollution. By 2021, the number of messages has decreased by 10%. In 2022, this figure continued to decline: already 49% of participants experienced severe light pollution.
Light pollution and harm to humans, animals and the economy
The bright artificial light of cities can create big problems for animals. It can spoil the mating season for frogs and fireflies, disrupts the communication of coyotes — they howl more when the sky is darker. Some birds also depend on the light of the Moon and stars for orientation during night flights. Studies have also shown that bright night lights can negatively affect a person by suppressing melatonin production and disrupting sleep rhythms.
For many of these reasons, CPRE supports changes aimed at reducing light pollution. According to CPRE, offices can turn off the lights at night, and city councils can take a more strategic approach to street lighting: only where it is necessary, for example, using motion sensors. As a bonus, these measures can also reduce energy bills and reduce other types of pollution.
Recall that earlier we talked about the celestial events of May 2022.
According to CPRE
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