In Turkey, first studies concerning light pollution have begun in the 1990s under the leadership of TUG (TÜBİTAK National Observatory). TUG has begun with a team consisting of employees of İstanbul Technical University (ITU), the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Electrical Power Resources Survey and Development Administration, Turkey Electricity Distribution Co. (TEDAŞ), Turkish Standards Institute (TSE), General Directorate of Highways. As a result of the work done until 2001, by the coordination of TÜBİTAK Office of Science and Technology Policy, the draft for "Electrical Outdoor Lighting Regulations" has been prepared and presented to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources in 2001. Although there have been small improvements, no legislative action has been taken. As a separate attempt, this draft regulation was updated and converted to the 'Light Pollution Resolution Draft’ and included in TÜBİTAK’s year 2005 plan; but unfortunately this too didn’t result in any specific action. Also, the suggestion by TÜBİTAK National Observatory, which was brought up in an attempt to protect the surrounding areas of the observatory within a radius of 30 km, due to the loss of a portion of the sky caused by the lights of 'developing’ Antalya was not considered .(11)
In 2010, ‘Preventing Light Pollution in Turkey (TİKE)’, a brand new project has been started by the İstanbul Kültür University. The project’s aim is to search for areas with access to dark, clear night skies by measuring the brightness of the night sky. One of the goals is for researches to look out ‘new appropriate’ places and mark these spots and work for their long term protection for observatories, star parties and for amateur astronomers. The data obtained will help evaluate the economic, environmental and cultural dimension of light pollution.(12)
In 2012, the PLD (Professional Lighting Design) Turkey, Architectural Lighting Design Magazine has started "The City Dark Film Screenings", activities that can help raise awareness about the negative effects of light pollution. In a delightful twist of fate, an entity whose primary focus is lighting design shown interest in light pollution! This could mean that perhaps through a partnership of different sides from the opposite ends of the isle, a wider awareness on the issue of light pollution can be created. The stronger the voice is, the easier the fight gets. This year, these activities began to be realized in cooperation with universities and academics. As a result of the first seminar in this direction, which was held on September 24, the first step was taken towards establishing relations with the Chamber of Architects which actually is a fairly big deal.
Although light pollution is being evaluated in a multidisciplinary area, it is not possible to take some of the necessary measures without designing the proper lighting fixtures. When we look around, we see that lamps of especially roads, streets, parks, historical sites and tourist facilities illuminate more space than we need. For this reason, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) recommends the method of pointed lighting, which illuminates only the place it is directed.
As this is a technical issue, it has a lot of details but basically the type of lamp and fixture design vary according to the area they will be used. For example for road illumination, low-pressure sodium lamp and fixtures which were screened in order to prevent the light to go higher than the horizontal plane that passes through the lamp location are recommended.
According to the information on the website of TİKE, in general, the light shall be prevented from directing to the sky, shall be directed to the place to be, light sources which give more light per unit of energy shall be used, unnecessary lighting -for example, advertisement and placard lightings- shall be closed after midnight by using timers.
Light pollution is said to be 'a global problem with a local solution'. People seem to have an active imagination when it comes to other environmental issues but when light pollution is mentioned people seem to have a harder time to wrap their heads around it. Bringing awareness through public outreach activities is very important because people are not very familiar with this concept. You can actually start your individual contribution by making sure that your house has the proper fixtures and you can also volunteer for TİKE project created at the Kültür University.
If you want to contribute to the study of light pollution map of the GLOBE at Night project which is an international project created to raise awareness about the effects of light pollution, you may compare the image of the Orion constellation that you see (if you can) with the brightness charts given on the website and send your observation reports to the site together with the coordinates of your location.(13)
If light pollution concerns your working area in a way, it will be effective to include this matter in your projects. The project created by PLD (Professional Lighting Design) Turkey, Architectural Lighting Design Magazine and universities is a great example of that. You can increase individual and social consciousness and awareness projects by entering into co-operation with other organizations related with this matter. You can get a stronger hand by creating a structure that allows members from many different areas to get together under one roof.
The majestic view seen when one gets away from the city lights and unveils the curtain of “fog” in the sky is actually above us every night, whether we see it or not. People who live in cities do not have the chance to encounter this beautiful view. Even if they did, they wouldn’t know how to look up for they simply lack the concept. It is hard for them to even believe that those are images from the actual night sky when they look at pictures taken by others! The sky is in fact more than just a view for us.
The sky makes us feel that we are a part of the universe, -in this sense, in fact, it is not a concept that represents the distance from us- it represents a familiar territory in a strange sense; by wrapping its majestic self around us throughout the history. Since ancient times, the sky has been a source of inspiration for people with its mystery and glory. It has pushed us to question our existence and encouraged us to make an effort to solve its meaning. Throughout the history of humankind, researching the sky has played an important role in the development of cultures and civilizations. By the development of science in time, we have realized that the earth (we) is not the center of the universe; proving the earth-centered universe model is wrong. The history of humankind experienced an intellectual revolution. None of this came easily though; if we remember the scientists prosecuted and ordered house arrest. If not for any other reason, for this reason only, it is worth saving our night sky from light pollution. It is worth protecting the environment, our health and our economy by paying a well-deserved attention to the issue of light pollution. At the end, it means to show respect for ourselves/universe.
References and Notes
1. Blask DE, Brainard GC, Dauchy RT, Hanifin JP, Davidson LK, Krause JA, Sauer LA, Rivera-Bermudez MA, Dubocovich ML, Jasser SA, Lynch DT, Rollag MD, Zalatan F., Melatonin-Depleted Blood from Premenopausal Women Exposed to Light at Night Stimulates Growth of Human Breast Cancer Xenografts in Nude Rats, American Association for Cancer Research, 2005; 65: (23)
2. Kousky, C., A Building Less Bright, Chicago Skyscrapers Go Dark for Migratory Birds, www.terrain.org/articles/15/kousky.htm
3. Aslan, Z., Avrupa Işık Kirliliği Sempozyumu’ndan Yansımalar ve Türkiye (Reflections from Europe Light Pollution Symposium, and Turkey). Cumhuriyet Newspaper, Science and Technology Journal, April 6, 2012, p. 12
4. Reeves, H., Boşluk Bakışımın Biçimini Alıyor (L'espace Prend la Forme de mon Regard), (Kurtuluş Dinçer, Trans.). Ankara: TÜBİTAK Popular Science Books, 2001
5. International Astronomical Union (IAU) Symposium 196 "Preserving the Astronomical Sky" Report, Vienna, 1999, www.iau.org/static/publications/IB86.pdf
6. StarLight Declaration in 2007, www.starlight2007.net
7. Prof. Dr. Zeki Aslan is the first director of TÜBİTAK National Observatory and the founder of the Physics Department at Akdeniz University.
8. Aslan, Z., Avrupa Işık Kirliliği Sempozyumu’ndan Yansımalar ve Türkiye (Reflections from Europe Light Pollution Symposium, and Turkey). Cumhuriyet Newspaper, Science and Technology Journal, April 6, 2012, p. 12
9. International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), www.darksky.org
10. Sanhueza P., Schwarz HE, Smith MG, The OPCC Experience in Protecting the Skies of Northern Chile, Starlight 2007 Conference Report, 2008; 427-434
11. TÜBİTAK National Observatory (TUG), www.tug.tubitak.gov.tr/isik_kirliligi.php
12. İstanbul Kültür University, TİKE Project, www.iku.edu.tr/tike
13. GLOBE at Night, www.globeatnight.org