Local News

Twinkle little star

January 20 - 26, 2021

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Twinkle little star

Anxious stargazers hope to restore the night sky to its former glory by spreading awareness about the harmful effects of light pollution.

The inappropriate and excessive use of obtrusive artificial light washes out starlight, interferes with astronomical research, disrupts ecosystems, has adverse health effects and wastes energy, they say.

The Bahrain Stargazers, which is made up of 135 members aged between 12 and 45 from Bahrain, India, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, are focussed on shedding light on these negative effects.

“Our club created a 2021 ‘bucket list’ for the public to help save the dark sky and spreading awareness is one of the most important ways to encourage the public to start making a change,” explained Myriam AlQassab, the managing director of Bahrain Stargazers and the national outreach co-ordinator in Bahrain for the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

“Light pollution is caused by artificial lights such as streetlights, property lights and factory lights that cause skyglow, glare, light trespass and clutter.”

Skyglow is brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas and glare is excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort. Light trespass is light falling where it is not intended or needed and clutter is bright, confusing and excessive groupings of light sources.

“According to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), light pollution harms our health, devastates wildlife, wastes energy and money,” added the 32-year-old from Hamad Town.

“It also washes off the beauty of the stars and it can make us less safe.

“The IDA stated that over the last eight years, light emission in Bahrain has risen 50 per cent.

“We can make changes by shielding outdoor lights and pointing lights on the ground, using lights only when needed and changing outdoor lights to LED warm yellow temperature colour up to 3,000k.”

LED can still cause harm if the wrong colour temperature is used.

She added: “Some countries have changed their streetlights from high pressure sodium vapour lighting to LED, but unfortunately, they ended up harming the environment instead of saving it by using the wrong colour temperature. Anything above 3,000k emits blue lights and causes light pollution.

“Changes that we would like to see are simply more dark skies in Bahrain and fewer lights.

“Stargazers and astrophotographers in Bahrain face difficulties to find good stargazing spots to enjoy the night sky.

“In Bahrain, the only place with Bortle 4 on the light pollution map is Hawar Island which we hope will always stay dark as an attraction for stargazers to enjoy the dark sky.”

The Bortle scale is a nine-level numeric scale that measures the night sky’s brightness of a particular location and quantifies the astronomical observability of celestial objects and the interference caused by light pollution.

The group that has a passion for space, science and the stars aims to help grow a new generation of astronomers.

It is registered as a non-profit organistion and has joined the IAU and the IDA.

Myriam added: “I would like to thank all our members for their efforts and passion for astronomy and for their time given in volunteering and spreading awareness.”

For details on the club, visit https://stargazersbh.wixsite.com/bsac

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