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Dark Skies and Astrotourism

Dark Skies and Astrotourism

Industry News

Dark Skies and Astrotourism: Why it’s important to keep light pollution to a minimum

Around the world, dark night skies filled with stars are increasingly being brightened by artificial light pollution.

WA's planning agency has released a draft policy on astrotourism that aims to reduce light pollution, energy consumption and costs.

Astrotourism operators hope the policy will support the industry but in a move welcomed by stargazers, the West Australian Government has signalled it plans to treat its night sky as an asset and protect it from excessive lighting.

The WA Planning Commission recently released a draft policy which is designed to help reduce light pollution, describing it as "an orange smog which obscures the night sky, as artificial and natural light reflect off moisture and dust particles in the sky".

As part of the policy, five key principles would need to be addressed in new planning proposals, including developments and subdivisions:

Eliminating light spill. A lot of lighting points upwards, projecting light pollution towards the night sky;

·     Avoiding over-lighting

·     Using energy-efficient bulbs

·     Ensuring lights are not directed towards reflective surfaces

·     Using warm white colours. While LED lights are more energy efficient, bright white LEDs have more blue light, which can affect wildlife, and a higher colour temperature.

·     Areas around identified astrotourism sites, including observatories, would be protected and adequate infrastructure for tourists provided.

The policy document said implementing dark sky principles was "generally cost-neutral" with many benefits, including:

·     Reduced energy consumption and lighting costs

·     Better astronomical observations

·     Protection of nocturnal flora and fauna