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Light Pollution

It is increasingly difficult to look at the stars, especially if we live in moderately large cities, turning our heads up trying to find some constellation is complicated.

Due to light pollution and the widespread increase in the use of artificial light at night, impairing our vision of the In addition to negatively affecting the environment, our safety, energy consumption and even our health.

Most people are more familiar with the contamination of land, water and air; But few know that light can also be a pollutant.

What is it & which types

Light pollution is just the inappropriate and excessive and misdirected use of artificial light. The types of light pollution are:

Light trespass:
Light that falls where it is not destined or is not necessary

Excessive brightness causing visual disturbance.

Sky glow:
Occurs when light is emitted directly into the atmosphere.

Light clutter:
Bright, confusing and excessive groups of light sources.

That is why the observatories are located in strategic places free of light pollution so as not to be affected in the measurements and work carried out in relation to the universe.

The Teide National Park in one of those places free of light pollution, is even protected under a law called the Sky Law prepared for the Protection of the Astronomical Quality of the Observatories of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, even prohibits air traffic to avoid Interferences that may be generated by air routes.

The Sky Law

On the 31st October 1988 the Spanish Government passed the Law for the Protection of the Astronomical Quality of the IAC Observatories (Law 31/1988, pdf), which was proposed by the parliament of the Canary Islands. On the 13th March 1992 the government approved the Regulations for the law (R.D. 243/1992, pdf).

The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Technical Office regulates the application of the law and provides advice to residents on compliance.

The law deals with four main areas:

  • Light pollution
    It regulates exterior lighting on the island of La Palma and the area of Tenerife directly visible from it to prevent light pollution.
  • Radioelectrical pollution
    It sets limits for electromagnetic radiation so that it does not interfere with equipment or corrupt results at the observatories and prevents radioelectrical pollution.
  • Atmospheric pollution 
    It controls activities which could damage the atmosphere over the observatories to prevent atmospheric pollution.
  • Aviation routes 
    It regulates air traffic over the observatories to prevent interference from aviation routes.

Source: Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias - IAC