Current Affairs
“We have children who never observed stars” – first artificial light map in Malta

A study by a group of Maltese scientists has created the first map of night sky light, which shows the wide range of pollution through artificial light in the Maltese archipelago.

The research, which has been recently accepted by a renowned academic journal, shows that light pollution is increasing, with consequences on the environment, animals and even people’s health.

The study showed that the most polluted place by artificial light is Birkirkara, while the same occurs in Rabat and Għajnsielem in Gozo. The darkest place in Malta is ‘Irdum tal-Vigarju’, in the limits of Rabat, while in Gozo, Ta’ Ħarrux, near Dwejra is least affected by light.

Night light brings with it many consequences, according to Dr Joseph Caruana from the University’s Physics and Astronomy Department, who led the study. “Excessive light and not clearly designed may leave an effect on ecology and even on human health”.

Light is negatively affecting creatures such as turtles, insects and bird. Currently Birdlife Malta is making studies on the impact of this pollution on yelkouan shearwater and scopoli shearwater.

From a cultural aspect, artificial light is also disrupting life’s basic experiences to the new generations. “School children have not only observed the Milky Way, but they tell you they have never observed stars, especially children brought up in places mostly affected by this light pollution”.

Dr Caruana appealed to authorities to be more sensitive in the use of lighting in public places, including by switching off monuments and church facades late at night.

“You also have street lights; in Gozo lamps were changed to full cut off, that is, they throw light downwards, however the light’s colour also affects. We have to use lamps that provide yellow light, rather than white towards blue”.

Dr Caruana appealed for simpler solutions and immediate action, so that night light does not continue to increase.

More information on this study may be accessed from here.