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Towns turn off lights to see sky

Hundreds of events across France with stargazing, wildlife spotting and a chance to see planets line up

FRANCE will fall into darkness tomorrow as towns switch off public lighting for the Jour de la Nuit [Day of the Night] when events are held to raise awareness about light pollution.

Nearly 500 nocturnal activities have been organised nationwide by a total of 23 organisations, including star gazing and wildlife spotting.

Event organiser Mickaël Huet told Connexion: “The main aim of the event is to make the environmental impacts of light pollution known, whether that is on energy consumption, starry skies or nocturnal biodiversity.”

But bad weather will not disrupt all their plans as he added “there are planetariums and other inside events programmed”.

Around 320 communes will switch off a part or all of their public lighting, as a symbol of their commitment to the cause.

It will be a chance to see a planetary line-up with a thin crescent Moon joining Venus, Mars and Jupiter in the eastern sky an hour before sunrise to the east. (Image from Jodrell Bank)

Over the last decade, the amount of lighting in France has seen an increase of 30% and it makes up 37% of towns’ electricity bills.

This amount of light causes direct problems for ecosystems. Insect species have become threatened, as, attracted to the light, they are either burnted by the heat or more visible to their predators. It also affects migrating birds, which are often disorientated.

More artificial lights also lead to more energy consumption and create a permanent orange haze that prevents people in urban areas from seeing a starry sky at night.

Now in its seventh year, the efforts of the Le Jour de la Nuit are starting to be seen with the lighting on non-residential buildings having to be switched off at night since 2013.

Mr Huet added “In the two years that I have organised the event, there has been a real progression. The number of activities has increased each year, showing a real desire on the part of communities to inform people about this issue.”

To see the full programme of events and find out what is on near you, visit their website www.jourdelanuit.fr
Stargazers photo: Halfblue CC BY-SA 3.0
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