Friday, 23 October 2009

'Nacht van de Nacht' 24.10.09 | turn off the light so we can see the stars!

As I live in Noord-Holland only 10 minutes from Schiphol airport, I find tomorrow’s event interesting to mention because I find it always striking to see the amount of street lights on the motorway in that area.  Obviously there is nothing wrong with having streets and buildings lit up but the question is: isn't it too much?

Preserving the dark night skies has become a major goal for some environmental organizations not only to save energy but also to be able to see the stars on a clear night.   As a result, on Saturday 24th October the Provinciale Milieufederaties and the foundation Natuur en Milieu organize the 5th Nacht van de Nacht* (Night of the Night) event where everyone will be able to enjoy various "nocturnal" activities* (such as candle light dinners, hiking in the woods, search for nocturnal animals in parks etc.) in different parts of the Netherlands. Thousands of lights will go off that night on bridges, offices, churches, monuments (eg: the Dom in Utrecht, the Euromast in Rotterdam, the Grote Kerk in Alkmaar, the townhall in Gouda, all IKEA shops) across the country  thanks to the participation of many municipalities and businesses who agreed to exceptionally switch off their lights to allow a darker night.
Indeed, the Netherlands is one of the most lit up country in Europe (and the world) for such a small but densely populated nation where the night sky is getting lighter each year by 3% to 5%.  
According to a research conducted by Provinciale Milieufederaties and Natuur en Milieu in 2008, three quarters of the Dutch population would rather have darker nights and reduce light pollution created by street lamps, billboards advertising (82%), greenhouses (75%) or laser lights (62%) as these are usually on all night long and not only light up the grounds but also shine their lights towards the sky, such as the greenhouses which create a sky glow that stretches over the night sky.  Every 40 kms you find a town here in NL you will find that the sky is excessively lit up, except in rural areas or on the islands up north where it is much darker. 

The measures taken to draw attention to this matter do not stop by one night event (or a global Earth Day) but  some municipalities such as Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe have started taking measures* by getting rid of hundreds of street lights and replace some of them with energy saving ones or dimmer lamps.
Below is an overview of the darkest places in various provinces of the Netherlands:

  Darkest places
  Hoge Land
  Landgoed Welna
  Drents-Friese Wold
  Nationaal Landschap Noordoost Twente
  De Peel
  Kop van Goeree
  Gelderse Vallei


* NB: information are in Dutch 


A Touch of Dutch said...

Very well-said! Thanks for sharing about this. Great blog too, by the way. I found your blog via both Aledys Ver & Tiffany Jarman Jansen's blogs.

A g g i e Lap said...

Thanks for your support, Isabella! I see you're also in 'Inside Twente' :)

Aledys Ver said...

This is very interesting - what's wrong with enjoying the dark? What about gazing at the stars? One thing is making cities less dangerous and another thing is overdoing it... Great idea!

A Touch of Dutch said...

Indeed :-)
I have been slow at participating on Inside Twente for a while, but I shall take advantage of it sometime again soon to update ;-)
Going to add your blog to my sidebar of the Expats in NL blogs. Have a great day!

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