Artificial versus Cosmic Light


Image of Dunedin showing just how much light spills beyond the area it is intended to light. The clouds are glowing, none of the streetlights should be visible from this distance nor should they reflect in the harbour. Image by Paul Le Comte.

The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) believes in the importance of the New Zealand nighttime environment in terms of the cultural, historic, educational, scientific, ecological and recreational importance of the stars, other nighttime phenomena, and the geographic uniqueness of New Zealand at night.

Wasteful outdoor lighting reduces the intrinsic and amenity value of the nighttime environment for urban and rural New Zealanders. As nearly 87% of all New Zealanders live in towns and cities, the effects of inefficient or ineffective night time outdoor lighting have a significant impact on our population. While the RASNZ’s interest is clearly focussed on the night sky, there are other impacts from poor lighting such as wasted energy, ecological, environmental, health and social effects which can be addressed with new technologies and good design.

The RASNZ Dark Skies Group works on behalf of RASNZ to promote quality lighting by making submissions, raising awareness and commending quality lighting by participating in the IESANZ Annual Lighting Awards.

To learn more, check out International Dark Skies Association and their video on Light and Health.

Image of Auckland City on Guy Fawkes night. Even the fireworks struggle to show up! Image by Glen Burgess.

Image of Invercargill and Bluff from 30 and 50 km distance showing significant cloud glow from spill lighting. Image by Rodney Heenan.

Photograph of Wellington at night by internationally renowned photographer of the night sky, Mark Gee.