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Skies go dark to see the stars

Hundreds of Jour de la Nuit events across France show how light pollution is affecting people’s lives

9 September 2014

WEATHER forecasts are not looking good for clear skies for Saturday’s Jour de la Nuit, when street lights are turned off in hundreds of towns and villages across France to allow people to enjoy the stars and to see the animals that only come out when dusk falls.

The event, organised by the group Agir pour l’Environnement, aims to show how urban light pollution is spoiling people’s lives and biodiversity and there will be events ranging from starlit horse rides in Peone, Alpes-Maritimes to a guided observation of the night sky at Ouézy, Calvados.

Many cities, towns and villages will be switching off the bulk of their street lights so that people can better view the stars, planets and the waning Moon. However, there will also be nature events to observe the animals that only come out when dusk falls, such as deer, bats and some butterflies and moths.

Held on the autumn equinox, when the Sun shines directly over the Equator and the days and nights are equal in each hemisphere, it marks the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the south.

Agir pour l’Environnement says the number of street lights polluting the night sky in France has grown by more than 30% in the last 10 years to nearly nine million – and adds up to a 38% of local council energy bills. Even worse, most street lights are so badly designed that light points up into the sky and not just on to the street and pavement below.

In the six years since the first Jour de la Nuit it has seen some success in limiting light pollution with laws in 2013 that forced shops, offices and public buildings to switch off excess lighting at night. Now it wants more action with calls to reduce lighting on roads and motorways.

Find out if there is an event happening near you at www.jourdelanuit.fr
Light pollution in Europe photo: Nasa

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