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Observatory Receives International Recognition for Work to Reduce Light Pollution

award winners
Albert White (Irish Light Pollution Awareness Campaign), Mark Bailey (Armagh Observatory), Terry Moseley (Irish Astronomical Association) and Leo Enright (Broadcaster and Journalist, and invited Guest Speaker at the Conference) receiving "Recognition of Merit" Awards from the International Dark-Sky Association, in the Market Place, Armagh, 19th September 2009.

A special presentation ceremony was held on Saturday 19th September in the closing session of the Ninth European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky, "Light Pollution and its Impact", in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh. The International Dark-Sky Association awarded the principal organizers, including the Armagh Observatory, a special "Recognition of Merit" for organizing the meeting and for their dedicated work in support of measures to reduce light pollution and enhance public awareness of the beauty of the night sky.

The conference took place in Dublin and Armagh over the period 16th to 19th September with the support of the Armagh Observatory, the Republic of Ireland’s "Discover Science and Engineering" programme, the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Royal Irish Academy, the Northern Ireland Space Office (NISO) at Armagh Planetarium, the Irish Light Pollution Awareness Campaign, and the International Dark-Sky Association. Approximately 90 participants from more than a dozen different countries as far afield as Hungary, the United States and Japan attended the meeting, which was the ninth in a series of annual European conferences on the highly interdisciplinary topic of light pollution and its impact.

Lectures in Armagh covered the direct cost of light pollution (more than £1.7 billion pounds wasted annually throughout Europe from streetlights alone), to its impact on flora and fauna and the natural environment, including bats and birds foraging for insects in an increasingly lit natural world, and the increasingly adverse impact on human health of the so-called "24-hour day".

A key output of the meeting was the use of the topic of light pollution to encompass a wide range of otherwise disparate topics in the national curriculum. Robert Hill (NISO) organized an exceptionally successful "3-D Light Pollution Challenge" session, involving secondary schools from both Dublin and different parts of Northern Ireland.

An important objective was to raise public and private awareness of the many adverse impacts of light pollution. These include the large financial cost of unnecessary lighting to individuals and the public purse, and the equally significant cost to the natural environment, including climate. Unnecessary lights shining in the wrong place at the wrong time and often when there is no-one around to see them consume very significant amounts of electrical power. This, in turn, is the cause of many tonnes of unnecessary CO2 injected into the atmosphere by the fossil-fuelled power stations that produce much of our electricity.

The conference (see www.lightpollution2009.eu) was hosted by the Armagh Observatory as one of its main activities in support of the United Nations International Year of Astronomy 2009, a year-long initiative of the International Astronomical Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), helping humankind to re-discover the wonders of the day and night-time sky and to celebrate the first use of a telescope exactly 400 years ago.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfat signarm.ac.uk Some images from the conference are available from the website: (www.lightpollution2009.eu) and also from the Armagh Observatory website at: star.arm.ac.uk/~meb/conf.

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Last Revised: 2009 September 24th
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