Light Pollution in Blackpool
It's fair to say that amateur astronomers in Blackpool have a love/hate relationship with the town's Illuminations. On the one hand we are fully aware of the business they bring into the town, extending the summer season for a few months, and keeping Blackpool on the tourist map. That is not in any question.
However astronomy in the UK is becoming increasingly difficult due to the spread of light pollution - which is basically where light is shone into the sky instead of down onto the ground. This can happen through poor lighting design, wrong lighting choice and sloppy installation. Usually all are down to an ignorance of the problem.
LP in Blackpool is not as bad as in some other major towns or cities - yet. Many of the improved sections of the promenade have had well designed, full cut-off lighting fitted, as do some of the town's roads. BADAS applauds this and hopes that eventually all the streetlights and lights at council facilities in Blackpool will be replaced or modified to minimise upward light scatter and "over-lighting", minimizing the town's electricity bill and perhaps reduce our council tax!
BADAS would also support the partial switch off of streetlights during the small hours, as has been done in other towns.
There have been plans for a 1KW laser (that's bright!) to be shone year round into the sky from the promenade, in order to create an artificial aurora borealis or "Northern Lights". BADAS are strongly opposed to this as this would blight the view of the night sky not only in the Fylde but over much of the surrounding area - Dark sites in Lancashire, Merseyside, North Wales, Cumbria, The Isle of Man would all be potentially ruined.
We strongly urge Blackpool Council and ReBlackpool to either shelve this plan indefinitely or at least limit the laser to nights when the sky is completely overcast.
We also question the need to shine searchlights from the South Pier/Pleasure Beach at angles so that they light up the sky directly overhead those living miles away fron the South Shore area, such as Poulton and Little Carleton.
It's not just the council that can do it's bit, of course. Businesses in Blackpool which have outside security lighting should consider the impact on their their neighbours' environment and the money they are wasting by burning multiple 500W halogen lights all hours of the night.
For more information on what is being done to combat light pollution, including what you can do to help, follow these links:
If you would like to discuss light pollution with BADAS, please see the Contact page.
This is a 1 second exposure taken 31/8/08 11pm from Cleveleys Prom. The cloud is glowing white above the South Pier and Pleasure Beach from searchlights, but the cloud nearer the camera is being lit orange by upward scatter from street lighting. This spoils everyone's view of the night sky and is a needless waste of energy and money.
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