Light Pollution

Light Pollution near Wickham, Essex
Credit: Need-Less

Have you ever noticed you can see more stars from the countryside than from a town? This is probably due to light pollution.

Light pollution is what we call too much artificial light which escapes up into the night sky. It creates a hazy orange glow that can obscure our view of the stars. This is why it is also known as sky-glow. Light pollution is caused by things like street lights, advertising boards, and building lights in urban areas.

It is important to have street lights for our own safety. But poorly designed and misdirected street lights have increased the amounts of light pollution across the world. This is bad news for stargazers, but light pollution also has a negative effect on wildlife. 

The good news is that light pollution can be reduced. If we minimise the amount of light that escapes into the night sky, it will improve our view of the stars and help wildlife. It will also significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere each year. 

But even now, there are still many parts of the UK that allow us to see the night sky in its full glory. These tend to be the more remote areas. Have a look at the list of UK and Ireland Stargazing Sites. You can also use this map to see the amount of light pollution in England. It was created by the 'Earth Observation Group' at the NOAA National Centres for Environment Information.