The researchers warned that the brightness of the night sky will not only affect professional astronomers and major observatories, but also threaten our relationship with space by weakening the ability of observatories to monitor celestial bodies and movements.
Less than 100 years ago, we could look up and see the brightly starry night sky. But this wonderful experience is about to become a thing of the past due to the increasing and widespread use of artificial light at night, which is causing a weakening of our view of the universe, and negatively affecting our environment, our safety, our energy consumption and our health.
In 4 studies published together on March 20 in the journal “Nature Astronomy(Nature Astronomy) Increased lights from Earth and satellites, as well as space debris, are raising concerns for astronomers about potential effects of light pollution, as well as potential interference with ground-based and space-based observatories, researchers warn.
According to the authors, light pollution from Earth as well as from satellites in low Earth orbit is increasing, as there are now almost no remote places on Earth that meet the appropriate criteria to install an observatory due to light pollution.
The authors believe that the problems associated with combating light pollution and space pollution are social and political rather than technological, and they suggest that binding caps should be put in place to stop the surge of artificial light at night and satellite constellations.
An unprecedented increase
During the past five years, the number of satellites has witnessed an unprecedented increase that doubled, since the American company “SpaceX” launched thousands of satellites in 2019 in low-earth orbit, which is less than two thousand kilometers above Earth. Each new satellite increases the risk that it will collide with another Earth-orbiting object, causing more debris.
As light pollution increases, successive collisions between satellites and objects orbiting Earth create an interaction between smaller fragments of debris, creating a cloud of “space junk” that reflects light back to Earth.
In a statement to Al-Jazeera Net, Fabio Valici, a researcher at the Institute of Light Pollution and Technology in Italy, and the lead researcher in one of the four studies, said that the results reached by his team represent the first successful attempt to measure the impact of the brighter night sky on the work of astronomical observatories, in addition to its cost. high finance.
Valeci explained that the description of light pollution, in terms of the volumetric concentration of anthropogenic photons in the atmosphere, is consistent with the definitions approved by the United Nations for air pollution.
The International Organization defines air pollution as the human introduction, directly or indirectly, of materials or energy into the air, which leads to harmful effects of this nature that endanger human health, harm living resources, ecosystems, and physical property, and impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses. for the environment.
The researcher believes that if we apply this concept to energy, we will find that it includes heat, light, noise and radioactivity and is released into the atmosphere through human activities.
“The reality is that much of the outdoor lighting used at night is ineffective, too bright, poorly directed, improperly protected and, in many cases, wholly unnecessary. That light and the electricity used to create it is wasted by projecting it to the sky, rather than focusing on the actual objects and areas people want to light up.”
Weakening the capacity of astronomical observatories
In the second study, the researchers explained that modeling conducted on the Vera Rubin Observatory, a giant telescope currently under construction in Chile, revealed that the darkest part of the night sky will become 7.5% brighter over the next decade. The study authors believe that this would reduce the number of stars the observatory can see by about 7.5%.
Another study has used extensive modeling to indicate that current measurements of light pollution significantly underestimate this phenomenon. According for the press release Posted on Phys.org, the researchers warn that the brightness of the night sky will not only affect professional astronomers and major observatories, but also threaten our relationship with space by weakening observatories’ ability to detect celestial bodies and movements.
Today, due to increased light pollution, there are almost no remote places available on Earth that meet all the characteristics needed to install an observatory. Most telescopes of 3 meters or higher operate under night skies that exceed the International Astronomical Union’s maximum limit for acceptable interference by artificial light. Given the scarcity of sites suitable for establishing observatories, the authors advocate preserving the darkness of the night sky for actual and potential sites.
And he called on astronomers to radically reduce the huge constellations, adding that the idea of the possibility of banning these constellations should not be met with rejection, especially since such constellations raise the already huge economic cost of space studies.
Source : Al Jazeera + Phys.org + Websites
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