City’s light pollution dims observatory’s view of skies

By Li Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-28 0:53:01

An observatory in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, denied on Wednesday earlier media reports that it was no longer able to observe the night skies due to light and air pollution in the city and was now an astronomy museum.

A staff member from the Purple Mountain Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who refused to reveal her name, confirmed to the Global Times that haze and illumination from the city light had affected the observatory's ability to observe space.

The decades-old observatory is situated on the eastern outskirts of Nanjing and has been in the forefront of astronomy research in China.

A report from the China National Radio on Saturday said the observatory was having difficulties making observations due to a lack of transparency of the atmosphere caused by nearby urban expansion over the years since it was built.

Zhang Yang, director of the observatory's science awareness department, was quoted in a Xinhua report on Tuesday as saying light pollution emanating from the city makes observations at night impossible.

Jason Pun from the Department of Physics with the University of Hong Kong, said that the impact of air pollution on space observations is hard to define due to a lack of research, but light pollution has become a major concern for observatories around the world.

Light pollution refers mainly to excessive or obtrusive artificial light that competes with starlight, Pun told the Global Times on Wednesday.

There are no laws controlling light pollution in China, and Pun said scientists have not conducted enough research on the issue.

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