Impact on Our Night Skies

“The starry sky is acknowledged as an asset and a scientific, environmental and skyscape treasure; as such, it must be protected from light pollution.”[1]

 Many of us have to come live in our region for the quality of our night skies that are still relatively intact. In cities, light pollution is so high that we hardly see the stars anymore.

Already, telecommunications towers are lighting up like Christmas trees. The citizens of Austin and Ogden have recently experienced this reality.[2]

Most telecommunications antennas are equipped with very bright, blinking lights that remain lit day and night. Yet, things don’t have to be this way. Transport Canada requires that antennas be equipped with lights to signal their presence to eventual airplanes.

Equipment exists that is designed to light up only when an aircraft is detected, and this makes all the difference. Because this equipment is more expensive, the industry doesn’t mention it to people who could be inconvenienced by antenna lights simply because they are exposed to them night after night. All we have to do is demand more respect from the industry.

Light pollution is not inevitable
It is not impossible to protect our region from light pollution. The ASTROlab at Mont Mégantic is a prime example. The observatory’s authorities, who felt that if nothing was done the very existence of the ASTROlab would eventually be threatened because light pollution had doubled over the past twenty years, campaigned in the area and even as far away as Sherbrooke to counter light pollution by trying to convince the polluters to take measures to reduce and even eliminate it. Thanks to these efforts, the Mont Mégantic area has been ranked International starry night reserve, status granted by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Thanks to this status, the MontMéganticNational Park and the Mont Mégantic Observatory have become an internationally acclaimed first-class tourist attraction.

 

[1] Article 9, Charte des paysages estriens,  Comité du patrimoine paysager estrien

[2] The Record, November 15, 2013.