The twelfth “darkness night” on Saturday will plunge nearly a hundred places throughout Belgium in complete darkness, an initiative to raise awareness of light pollution that prevents 60% of Europeans from seeing the Milky Way.
“In Belgium, artificial lighting, whether from commercial, industrial or residential is growing every year,” ASCEN, the association for safeguarding the sky and nocturnal environment, at the origin of the event, stated.
Even though synonymous for progress, artificial lighting has not less become over time a nuisance to the environment, flora and fauna, but also for humans,” were it only in disturbing our sleep quality,” ASCEN said.
But light pollution also impacts on the quality of astronomical observations. “A black sky hasn’t existed in Belgium for a long time. Wherever you are, even in the depths of the Ardennes, you will not escape the orange halos of light on the horizon,” the association said, composed essentially of astronomers and naturalists. “The North Star is almost invisible in the city and very few children can still say they know what the Milky Way is since they saw it,” ASCEN said.
In fact, according to the latest “World Atlas of artificial brightness of the night sky” published in 2016, some 60% of Europeans and 80% of the inhabitants of North America can no longer contemplate the luminescent outline of our galaxy. At the global level, the Milky Way is visible only to a third of humanity.
If ASCEN advocates moderation of artificial lighting, it does not demand in any case its removal. “We ask for a more reasonable and rational attitude: illuminate what is necessary, when necessary, and properly”, it claimed.
Organized since 1995 in Flanders and since 2008 in the south, the night of darkness is to raise public awareness of the consequences of light pollution. On Saturday, nearly a hundred activities are organized in Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders, including observations of the sky, night nature walks, exhibitions and conferences on nocturnal wildlife, etc. All information is available on the ASCEN website.
The Brussels Times