The other day I was looking at where the skies are dark on Planet Earth and where the light pollution shows up even in space. You can now see these things in a Google Earth overlay:
Google has just pushed out a new layers update. The biggest new addition I’ve found is a new NASA layer under the “Featured Content” layer. One of the new features in the NASA layer is a “Earth at Night” image overlay for the entire Earth. It shows how much light various cities are putting out at night (or light pollution for those of us who like stargazing). Not only that, but the new layer is a regionated layer so when you zoom in closer it brings in more detail.
New Zealand doesn’t do tooo badly, but it’s not that good either. Unless you head down to the South Island, round near Lake Tekapo where the Mt John Observatory is situated. There’s a webcam you can look at: Lake Tekapo webcam.
I just listened to an item from yesterday’s Radio NZ Afternoons Programme (the item will be available on the podcast for a few more days and is only 8 minutes long):
The sky above Lake Tekapo could soon become a World Heritage Area to protect the sky from light pollution.
Apparently they’re applying to UNESCO for World Heritage Status, which means getting local councils and tourist organisations onside in such things as making sure outside lights don’t point up into the sky, and maybe even that rooms in the Hermitage Hotel on Mt Aoraki (Mt Cook) keep their curtains closed at night.
It’s been a long time since I lived in the South Island, but I remember once driving with friends from Ashburton to Aoraki. We rounded a bend in the road one winter’s night and there was the full moon ahead shining from a clear, dark sky on to one of the lakes. It was an unbelievably beautiful sight. We need to treasure those dark skies.