New campaign to be launched to make Midsomer Norton and surrounding towns and villages have more Dark Sky
By Guest author
12th Feb 2024 | Local News
Light pollution is obliterating "one of the natural world's most magical sights" - a dark, starry night sky – and it's time ministers tackled it "once and for all".
That's according to West of England Mayor, Dan Norris, who has joined forces with Herschel Museum of Astronomy in urging all Bath and NE Somerset residents and businesses to "switch off the light at night" to save energy and encourage dark skies.
Light pollution is increasing around the world, with a recent study finding it has risen by 10% every year since 2011. It can have some serious side-effects, beyond ruining astronomy, with it being especially harmful to the region's insects and other pollinators.
Dan Norris is calling for the UK to join countries such as France and South Korea in legislating to protect nightscapes through things like better-designed lighting and streetlight dimming schemes.
But the Mayor is urging the public to play their part too, including by learning more about the growing problem through stargazing sessions, talks and other events planned by the New King Street-based Museum throughout this month as part of its ongoing Dark Skies campaign.
Dan Norris, West of England Mayor, who will kick off a Dark Skies Appreciation Stargazing session with the Bath Astronomers said: "A truly dark sky blanketed with stars is one of the natural world's most magical sights, and for thousands of years the night sky has inspired so many around the world.
"But a lot of the time, and particularly in recent years, it's been thick hazy, yellow fog and thinly-veiled disappointment for people wanting to experience this truly natural wonder - especially in more built-up areas. It's left humans and wildlife alike paying the price.
"That's why I'm urging everyone to help me tackle light pollution in the West of England. Every simple measure, like turning off those unnecessary lights and shutting curtains and blinds when we turn on lights indoors, will prevent light from spilling into our gardens and wild places."
Tackling light pollution is a key priority for the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, led by the regional Mayor, with Mr Norris pointing to his Local Nature Recovery Strategy which is proposing to do things like add colour filters to LED streetlights, and minimise lighting on the road network where it's safe.
Looking up at stars is becoming increasingly less accessible for people in more populated areas.
In Bath and NE Somerset, the population size has increased by 9.9%, from around 176,000 in 2011 to 193,000 in 2021.
This is higher than the overall increase for England (6.6%), where the population grew by nearly 3.5 million to 56,489,800