Australia’s First Urban Night Sky Park at Palm Beach
Since she successfully helped create Australia’s first Dark-Sky Park (Warrumbungles National Park) back in 2015, Marnie Ogg has been petitioning local and federal governments to make changes in Australia’s biggest cities. While she realises that obtaining the Dark-Sky certification for these areas is unrealistic, she wants to help governments aim towards a goal of Urban Night Sky Parks, which are night-sky friendly but don’t meet the requirements of Dark-Sky areas (determined by the Dark Sky Association). By doing this, she hopes to create examples of good lighting principles within closer reach of the state capitals.
Why Palm Beach?
The Northern Beaches Council have unanimously voted to look into the potential of creating the Urban Night Sky Park in Palm Beach. This area is so great because on a clear night you can see 127 stars by the naked eye.
To meet the standards, there are a few requirements for public lighting which include warm coloured bulbs which are fully shielded and only used when needed, the council must also agree to help educate the local community to help ongoing light pollution in homes and businesses. Most local councils can't do anything to change their light pollution because the lighting for the community is contracted out to private engineering firms who control the lights. Light pollution is just as harmful as noise pollution, but there are no guidelines set out for councils or companies to adhere to.
So, why are Urban Night Sky Parks important?
Not only does decreasing light pollution allow residents to enjoy all that the starry sky has to offer, it can also improve our health. Light pollution has been shown to affect human circadian rhythms, animal reproduction and pollination. The light pollution we currently get from the average Australian street lined with street lamps is the equivalent of having a full moon every 50 metres, Ms Ogg told Australian Geographic.
What can you do to reduce light pollution?
“The public need to be aware that light pollution is like a plastic bag. You have to think, ‘Do I need the light on? How am I using it? Could I use it a better way?’”, Ms Ogg explained. “When you purchase light bulbs from your local hardware stores or supermarkets, ask for warm coloured lights that are night sky and eco-friendly, then stores will have to supply them.”
Let's Look For Shooting Stars
You could also check out the patch of dark sky nearby in Terrey Hills (also on the Northern Beaches.) The Northern Sydney Astronomical Society run observing nights, usually on the Saturday before and after the New Moon. They start around sunset and continue until everyone has had enough. They have telescopes to share, so this one is perfect for the kids.
More Nature Fun Here
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Main image: ABC News