The Starry Night

This Sunday, 19 April, sees the start of International Dark Sky Week 2020. The global event is “an opportunity for us all to consider the role of the night and its star-filled sky in each of our lives” and is hosted by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Whilst the event is about appreciating and celebrating the night sky, it’s also about protecting it and recognising the damaging impact of light pollution.

A whole host of live presentations and activities will be happening during the week-long event (virtually, of course), with the likes of scientists, authors and educators sharing their passion and knowledge of the night sky, along with how we can help protect it. (Click here for the programme of events.)

The issues caused by light pollution are something we’re very much aware of as lighting designers. Obstructing our views of the night sky is one thing, but light pollution also causes havoc with the environment, affects our health and wellbeing and wastes energy (amongst other things).

In our profession we have a duty of care to respect and protect the night sky in our project work, and to promote and educate all parties on the importance of preserving night skies for future generations. We must carefully balance our designs to make sure we’re meeting the client’s desired outcome, but not to the detriment of nighttime ecology.

In our work, protecting the night sky starts with educating the client. The consideration of exterior lighting needs to be discussed from the very start of a project, so that the client knows and understands why we’re following best practice for “Dark Skies” and designing in a certain way. We continually challenge our designs and raise the standard of well-considered and sustainable exterior lighting schemes, which involves the calculated positioning of luminaires and selection of suitable, low glare fittings, along with smart control systems to make sure there’s no unwanted light when spaces aren’t occupied.

Once the lighting scheme has been accepted and agreed with the client, we work closely with the landscape architects and building architects to implement our design ethos harmoniously. And it’s imperative that we remain on the project through to practical completion to allow us to commission, aim and set the lighting levels across the site – correctly.

Like us, we hope you welcome International Dark Sky Week and the awareness it brings, and the need for us to all work together to protect our night skies – after all, who doesn’t love star gazing.