31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 7. Education and Public Outreach Posters
Poster Groups I and II, Monday-Friday, October 11, 1999, , Kursaal Center

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[7.06] Light Pollution: A Threat to Ground-based Astronomy

D. R. Davis (International Dark-Sky Association and Planetary Science Institute)

Light pollution that accompanies population growth has reduced the effectiveness of several world class observing sites and threatens most others in the world. Recent decades have seen an activist approach to dealing with light pollution issues, led by a few members of the astronomical community. The principal tool for combating light pollution is the local outdoor lighting ordinance designed to protect dark skies by requiring some combination of: a) shielding outdoor lighting so that none of the light is emitted above the horizontal plane, 2) encouraging the use of "astronomy friendly" light sources such as low pressure sodium, and 3) limiting the total amount of outdoor light that is produced. Such measures have been effective in the past, however, in some areas, development is rapidly moving close to world-class observatories; the Canoa Ranch development near Mt. Hopkins in southern Arizona is the most recent highly visible example. More effective measures are needed to protect existing sites in the future. The astronomical community needs to become more aware of the increasing threat to many prime observing sites and become more active in developing effective programs for preserving the dark sky. This is needed not only for the benefit of our profession but also for preserving the heritage of the night sky for future generations.

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