The normal night sky over Poland no longer exists

As much as 58 percent of the Polish population has no opportunity to see the Milky Way, and as much as 20 percent of the country's population, the night sky is so bright that eyesight remains in daylight mode 24 hours a day, experts said.

The light pollution report was published by the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Light Pollution Research Center.

According to the study, the natural night sky over Poland no longer exists. The brightest urban site is Warsaw's Devilad Square, but the greenhouses shine even brighter. Excess light disrupts sleep and metabolism, harming people, animals and plants. 58 percent of the Polish population has no opportunity to see the Milky Way, and for 20 percent of the country's population, the night sky is so bright that sight remains in daylight mode 24 hours a day.

Satellite analyzes have shown that Polish territory observed from orbit has brightened at least 6% in 2022 compared to the previous decade. It's been the brightest year ever. Most of the light came from large cities. Only five of them – Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow, Gdańsk and Poznań – accounted for 10 percent. Total light sent from Poland into space. The greenhouses glowed intensely. Some appeared on satellite maps as several times brighter than the area around Warsaw's Black Devil, the brightest urban site in Poland.

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“In 2022, the normal night sky over Poland no longer existed at all. It was close to ideal only in the Bieszczady Mountains – by only 6%. Brighter than a sky devoid of light pollution. In large cities, the brightness reached several thousand percent. In The case of Warsaw, Krakow or Poznań, for example, in 2022, the sky was always brighter than it should be after dark. “In these cities, the real night never comes,” explains Dr. Happ, citing the press release. Andrzej Kotarba of the Polish Academy of Sciences' Space Research Center is the lead editor of the report.

Light pollution, according to Agnieszka Machnowska, an expert at the Polaris Association, results from inappropriate and excessive lighting of objects. “We want to light up roads and streets to make them safe to use after dark. We also use light to decorate buildings and illuminate advertisements. The problem starts when we install lighting that is too intense, too white, and directs the light flux to places where it is completely unnecessary: ​​on the facades and interiors of buildings, on lawns, And in the treetops, and even directly into the sky. – Author of the report.

As the report points out, Polish legislation does not consider excessive light emissions as pollution – unlike, say, noise or smog. But scientists confirm that excess light in the environment affects the performance of plants and animals, but also affects humans. “Exposure to light at night disrupts our internal biological clock, leading to sleep and metabolic disorders, which are among the most common lifestyle diseases,” says Dr. Happ. Thomas Szczor of Krakow University of Technology, co-author of the report.

The report aims to draw attention to the problem of increasing light pollution, as well as provide objective and science-based arguments for discussions on implementing a national sustainable lighting policy.

“Night lighting is one of the achievements of civilization. Fighting light pollution does not mean that we abandon it and turn off all the lights. The goal is to use light rationally and not deprive yourself and others of the opportunity to live a healthy life in a healthy environment. At the same time, we will also save the view of the night sky. It may turn out that after some time the sky after dark will be so bright that on Christmas Eve we will not see the first star or any other star in it,” concludes Dr. Happ. Kotarba.

The report was prepared by employees of Polish universities, research institutes and NGOs working to reduce light pollution.

(In the main image: The night sky over Beskid Wyspowy, Article source: Science in Poland – PAP)

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