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Switch Off On May 21 To Enjoy The Wonder Of Night Skies

Published on: 10 May, 2021
Updated on: 12 May, 2021

On the evening of May 21, public lighting in Geneva and the surrounds will be switched off so people there can enjoy natural darkness lit only by the moon and stars and see the sky as it was before light pollution.

Dark Skies over Leith Hill.

Now Surrey-based Dark Skies Matter is calling on local communities and individuals here to join the cause and switch off external lights from sundown until midnight on May 21.

Advocates say light pollution wastes valuable resources. contributes to climate change, endangers human health by disrupting natural bodily cycles and degrades biodiversity.

The inspiration is La Nuit et Belle!, the brain-child of Eric Achkar, engineer and Geneva Astronomy Society president, and Pascal Moeschler, curator and biologist at the Geneva Museum of Natural History.

The original 2019 La Nuit est Belle! reached nearly a million people in 152 communities over an area of 2,000 square kilometres. It showed light pollution can be reduced, literally at the flick of a switch.

The Dark Skies Matter call is backed by CPRE Surrey, the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Surrey Wildlife Trust and Guildford and District RSPB.

Astronomer John Evans, founder of Dark Skies Matter, said: “Dark skies are under threat for people in the UK, a heritage that has been ours from the earliest times. Our bodies need the restorative darkness of night as much as they need the bright light of day.

“Light pollution is destroying this crucial balance. It compromises our health and well-being and that of our fellow creatures. Why are we allowing this to happen? We can reduce light pollution by adopting well-informed lighting practice and still do all the things we need to do.

“We can take a stance on light pollution by joining La Nuit est Belle!. We hope this small act will get supported locally and build into an annual event.”

Heather Kerswell, chair of the Surrey Hills AONB said: “The best of Surrey’s dark skies are to be found in the Surrey Hills, in remote rural areas such as Leith Hill and the Devil’s Punch Bowl. A starry night sky is one of the most magical sights the countryside can offer.

“We call on Surrey residents to switch off their outdoor lighting on May 21 to celebrate our wonderful dark skies.”

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