AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 104. Light Pollution Issues
Display, Wednesday, January 9, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[104.04] Protecting the Local Dark-Sky Areas around the International Observatories in Chile.

M.G. Smith (Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory)

This report covers efforts by IAU Commission 50's new Working Group on Light Pollution to slow or halt the spread of incipient light pollution near the VLT, the Magellan 6.5m telescopes, Gemini South, SOAR, Blanco and many smaller telescopes in Chile. An effort has just begun to protect the ALMA site in Northern Chile from RFI.

Such work includes extensive outreach programs to the local population, schools and industry as well as to local, regional and national levels of government in Chile. The group is working internationally with such organizations as the IDA; one member has recently led the production of "The first world atlas of the artificial night-sky brightness". These efforts have resulted in the first national-level environmental legislation covering dark skies as part of a government effort to protect the environment.

Chilean manufacturers are now producing competitive, full-cut-off, street lighting designed specifically to comply with the new legislation. The Chilean national tourism agency is supporting "Astronomical Tourism" based on the dark, clear skies of Chile. An international conference on Controlling Light Pollution and RFI will be held in La Serena, Chile on 5-7 March, 2002, backed up by a parallel meeting of Chilean amateur astronomers.

Much work remains to be done.

Most of this work is supported by funding from the US National Science Foundation through CTIO, and from ESO, OCIW and CONAMA.

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