Tijarafe: Lightpollution by a public school

The purpose of this installation is a mystery to me, but it’s bright, white, and creates significant lightpollution over the small village of Tijarafe on La Palma’s western coast. Oddly enough, it’s mounted on a window of a public education center (CEO Tijarafe). This is what it looks like at night: Continue reading

Astronomical viewpoints, brightly illuminated

One of La Palma’s astronomical attractions is a network of 14 astronomical viewpoints. They are distributed across the island and are equipped with information panels: Some explain constellations, others the planets, the Moon, or other aspects of astronomy. Each one also has a sign that points to Polaris, the northern star. Continue reading

Welcome to “La Palma Lightpollution”!

Who am I? A Physicist by training, science writer by profession and amateur astronomer by passion, I spent a great deal of my life hunting for true, dark, starry skies. In 2017, I relocated to La Palma, where I am since engaged in astrotourism. You can find me on Twitter or read my personal astronomy blog here.

What is La Palma? It’s the northwestern of the Canary Islands, an archipelago in the Atlantic administered by Spain. La Palma hosts one of the most important astronomical observatories in the world, the Observatorio Roque de los Muchachos at more than 2000 meters a.s.l.. Because of its unique landscape, the entire island was declared ‘biosphere reserve’ by UNESCO. The highest mountain peaks are also declared ‘Starlight Reserve”, and local authorities and tourism companies promote La Palma as a prime astrotourism destination. A ‘Sky Law‘, enacted in 1988, is supposed to protect the island against the effects of light pollution – wasted artificial light spilled into the sky. To many people, La Palma is a textbook example of a dark sky destination and successful light pollution protection efforts.

What’s about this blog? During my first two years on the island, I discovered that even on La Palma light pollution is increasing at a pace I did not imagine possible. Not a week passes without new lighting being installed, few of which of which (in case of private lighting, practically none) are light pollution friendly. As a consequence, the dark starry sky is dying on La Palma as it is everywhere in the world, despite the sky law and sugarcoated tourism ads. This blog will collect my observations, linking the daily little lighting lunacy with the island-wide disaster. It’s supposed to document the continuing degradation and, if no serious action is taken, eventual destruction of one of the last accessible dark sky places on our planet.

Worth the read: “La Palma Declaration” – Declaration in defence of the night sky and the right to starlight Link (pdf)