Why do we care?

Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition brochure

Flagstaff is the home of Lowell, U.S. Naval and other astronomical observatories. Nothern Arizona's dark skies are their greatest natural resource and an inspiration to all of us. Coconino County and the City of Flagstaff have sought to protect our dark skies of comprehensive outdoor lighting ordinances. But we are all losing the battle to a "thousand points of light pollution"- porch lights left on all night, excessive security lighting, and unshielded lights.

Excessive night lighting has been shown to have a negative impact on the health of plants and animals, including humans. With your help we can reverse this trend, and bring back to all of as the helth, beauty and magic of a deeply starry night.

Protected starry heaven over Flagstaff (USA).

Results and conclusions.

The conclusion of the present investigation is depressing. Parasitic lighting and interference for observations with the biggest Russian 6-m telescope BTA increase each year. In winter, when the snow cover sets on and the leaves on trees are absent, the intensity of light pollution increases by 5 - 25 times in the mercury lines, and up to 45 times in the sodium lines. And the astronomers themselves are guilty of it. The general part of light pollution arises from city lights installed in the Nizhnyj Arkhyz, where the office, the service buildings and the appartment houses for astronomers and technicians are located. Observatory leadership lost the control under utilization of city lights. As a result, the unprotected powerful lamps are settled in the astronomers' village located only 3.5 km away from BTA, the lighting fixtures even equipped by the shades are operated so that their light spreads free in the directions upward and to telescope, the powerful lamps even under the shelters use to install so that their light scatters free on large areas and goes upwards due to reflection by snow cover. As in the big cities, the light design of buildings is used. Orange sodium lamps are utilized in the observatory services.

Such a use of light is inadmissible being prevented to carry qualitative astronomical observations with the big Russian telescope. It becomes evident that such close location of village to observational sight of BTA was chosen by mistake.

In the astronomers' village, even the lighting standards accepted by the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA) for privates and organizations far from astronomy are not keeped. In USA, the situation developed that the light energy is radiating in space with the cost of 9 billion dollars in a year due to badly adjusted city illumination. These money dissipate for nothing, with the violation to ecology and science, they exceed by few times all the spending given to the astronomical investigations. With high charges of energetic resources, many people understand that one can spare on such nonreasonable losses. Moreover, the education level of people becomes such that the plain citizens like to join science, have their own telescopes to point them on the sky. They organize often the astronomical observations very useful for science. So, the sky clear of the light pollution became the same cultural value as the beauty of the surrounding natural landscape. Moreover, scientists have got the meaning that the peoples' interest to science is the important factor of all-round support of astronomical and space researchers including financial one. In USA, the unions and associations of citizens are founding and working to protect the heavens of city lights even for small national observatories.

Indifferent treatment of the Russian Academy of Sciences, leadership and staff of the Special Astrophysical Observatory to our general resource of the biggest Russian national observatory is absolutely inadmissible. No reasons about aspiration for the inprovement of life quality and comfort of astronomers in the Nizhnyj Arkhys village can justify this careless treatment. Russians call such a treatment 'to hack a branch you sitting on'. If the scientists themselves do so indifferently behave toward their science, what to say about plain citizens who maintains this science paying the taxes. The economic wide-purpose gas-discharge lamps are coming for sale in Zelenchukskaya just now, they provide sixfold power of radiation, moreover, they have the same size and may be installed in the same plafonds as usual incandescent lamps. In the private sector, these lamps will gradually change the incandescent ones. And no 'comprehensive ordinances of local authorities' can stop parasitic lighting if everyone who goes by car along the Arkhyz road sees how the astronomers themselves set their street lighting.

Taking into account that the Sochi-2014 Olympiad design works and construction of olympiad objects, sport complexes and popular tourism and rest bussiness begin just now in this county, such a treatment of profy-astronomers of SAO RAS presage bad future for all the Russian astronomy. If the Special Observatory will not keep standards of lighting in the protected area generally accepted for the effective scientific work, nobody will keep them.


V.V.Vlasyuk and O.I.Spiridonova, Russian Astron. Zhurnal V.70, 773-791, 1993.
D.E.Osterbrock, M.F.Walker, and A.T.Koski, Publ. Astron. Soc. Pacific V.88, 349-352, 1976.
La Palma Night-Sky Brightness
International Dark-Sky Association
Table of measurements

Night sky spectrum of the Special Astrophysical Observatory.
Observations of relative intensities of HgI and NaI emission lines
Characteristics of interference due to light pollution on the SAO observational sight.
Light pollution sources-1.
Light pollution sources-2.
Results and conclusions.
Continued. Monitoring the situation.