Dark Night Skies
Those who have experienced the wonder of dark night skies will appreciate the need to protect them in the same way we protect our air quality, water quality, land and marine environments, ecosystems and biodiversity.
The findings of the World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness are startling – it shows that more than 80% of the world live under light-polluted skies and the Milky Way is hidden from more than ⅓ of humanity.
New Zealand’s Status
New Zealand’s coverage in the World Atlas reports the Milky Way is visible from an impressive 96.5% of our land area with 53.1% of it containing pristine night skies. But with the majority of people living in cities and towns, which emit high-levels of light pollution, only 16.6% of New Zealanders can see the Milky Way and only 2.8% live under pristine night skies.
Dark Sky NZ
Dark Sky NZ is an environmentally committed organisation.
Our goal is to protect and preserve New Zealand’s dark night skies – this is the driving force behind the activities of DarkSkyNZ.
Our approach is to increase awareness, understanding and enjoyment of New Zealand’s dark night skies.
Our expectation is that a greater appreciation of New Zealand’s dark night skies will encourage efforts to protect and preserve them.
Our philosophy is:
Ma te whakatau, ka mohio
When we are shown, we come to know
Ma te mohio, ka marama
When we know, we come to understand
Ma te marama, ka ora ai tatou
When we understand, we all achieve wellness
Auckland’s Sky Brightness Project
Our focused, pioneering study of the night sky brightness of dark areas of Auckland (which contains approximately a third of the country’s population), has resulted in Aotea/Great Barrier Island, being certified as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary. We are also working in Waiheke Island (in collaboration with Dark Sky Waiheke Island) to gain accreditation for the island with the International Dark Sky Association. This project is now close to completion.
Dark Sky NZ assists communities and local authorities to better understand their night skies by measuring night sky brightness. It uses a custom-designed approach that takes into account the site-specific features of each area.
We all know from personal experience that there are pockets of good quality dark skies, and even pristine dark skies, in and around the Auckland are. These are what this project seeks to objectively and methodically measure with a view to protecting them for the future.
The study of night sky brightness status of various areas in Auckland will:
- Establish baseline information on the current levels of sky brightness;
- Identify areas where the dark sky quality could be improved; and
- Identify areas with dark skies which merit protection.
The data collected will be analysed to provide reliable information to assist with a Campaign to:
- Raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution; and
- Lobby the appropriate environmental protection, regulatory and local authorities to help manage light pollution to improve the quality of dark skies
Let’s work together to make a positive difference to the environment we live in. Let’s ensure our dark night skies are preserved to be enjoyed by us and the future generation.
The 2+ minute film below illustrates the impact of light pollution on the view of the night skies.
Lost in Light from Sriram Murali on Vimeo.