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Safeguarding astronomical heritage from the erasure of light pollution

A/Prof Duane Hamacher



emu artwork by Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney, image Peter Lieverdink

Light pollution is actively destroying our ability to see the stars. Indigenous knowledge systems around the world are based on the stars, and the peoples' ability to observe and interpret stellar positions and properties is of critical importance for daily life and cultural continuity today. Efforts to reduce, minimise, or eliminate light pollution are being achieved with varying degrees of success, but urban expansion, poor lighting design, and the increased use of blue-light emitting LEDs as a cost-effective solution is worsening problems related to human health, wildlife, and astronomical heritage for the benefit of capitalistic economic growth.

Duane Hamacher is Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the ARC Centre of Excellence in All-Sky Astrophysics in 3-Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) within School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. Duane researches cultural astronomy, Dark Sky studies, astronomical heritage, and the history and philosophy of science.



United Nations Sponsored Conference


The Dark and Quiet Skies Conference for Science and Society, is a virtual event from October 3-7, 2021. (European times)

This conference follows on the successful October 2020 virtual Dark and Quiet Skies meeting, which resulted in a first-ever comprehensive report to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) with specific recommendations to address three key concerns: ground-based light pollution, the influence of large satellite constellations on the night sky, and interference to radio astronomy observations.

The current event will pivot to the issue of how the Dark and Quiet Skies report’s contents can be practically implemented by the United Nations and COPUOS member states. Based on feedback received at the conference, the report will be finalized and presented at the COPUOS Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee meeting in February 2022.

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