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Earth Hour Reduces Light Pollution

The Armagh Planetarium together with other public bodies in Northern Ireland joined with organizations throughout the world by switching off its lights on the evening of Saturday 28th March in recognition of Earth Hour 2009. This is an annual event, first introduced by the World Wildlife Fund in 2007. It is designed to raise awareness of the impact of human activities on the Earth's natural environment, including climate change. Earth Hour originated in Sydney, Australia, and highlights the damage to the natural environment caused by wasteful use of energy, especially the unnecessary outdoor lighting that leads to light pollution.

The campaign has attracted the support of politicians and opinion-makers worldwide. Last year, Saturday 29th March 2008, it received massive international support when more than 400 cities in 35 countries took part. In 2009, it is estimated that more than 2,000 cities in 82 countries around the world participated, including businesses, and cities and districts in Northern Ireland.

In Armagh, astronomers have been observing the sky for more than 200 years. The Observatory's press officer, John McFarland, said: "Earth Hour raises awareness of light pollution, improves the natural environment, and saves money. It highlights the need to maintain the relative dark-sky conditions that we currently have in Armagh, necessary to maintain the heritage of observational astronomy from the city."

The energy used to generate light pollution is a major avoidable source of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and an unnecessary expense for businesses. Switching off lights left burning in empty rooms, or those shining uselessly into space or left on at times when there is no-one to see them, can make a significant contribution to improving the natural environment, and especially our view of the stars and the Milky Way galaxy of which we are a part.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Bailey or John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; mebat signarm.ac.uk; or jmfat signarm.ac.uk.

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Last Revised: 2009 March 30th
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