Light pollution types and how it impacts on our living environment

Simply reducing and removing unnecessary lighting saves money and energy, often at minimal expense. Over-lighting the night neither improves visibility nor increases nighttime safety, utility, security, or ambiance.

Urban sky glow

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While it sounds kind of poetic, the brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas is actually responsible for the disappearance of the Milky Way and stars from many areas. As IYA2009 points out, “increasingly, the most important equipment needed to enjoy the wonders of the night sky is an automobile with a full tank of gas and a map.”

Light trespass

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Noise complaints aren’t uncommon, but how about light complaints? This might happen with light trespass, when unwanted light enters private property, be it from a neighbor, passing headlights, or street lamps.


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This often overlaps with urban sky glow and occurs when excessive light is used to bring attention to an important building. Landmarks, historic buildings, and attention-seeking skyscrapers come to mind.


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When unshielded light from one source spills into the sky and elsewhere; glare can reduce visibility and can be blinding.

Light clutter

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Excessive groupings of light that are bright and confusing, commonly found in over-lit cities and inhabited areas. The proliferation of clutter contributes to urban sky glow, trespass, and glare.


The impacts of lighting pollution on the environment and our living space

Video credit: National Geographic

Credit: Tree Hugger