Light Pollution

Since the invention of electric light, humans live a life that is completely dependent on artificial light. This light helps people in being more productive, but also often disturbs the environment. In cities, so much light is being produced, that people cannot see the Milky Way any more at night. In recent years, technological advances (primarily LED) have made lighting cheaper, and easier to deploy, making the problem of light pollution even worse. Light pollution is bad for the health of humans, but also for animals. Imaging having a street lamp right in front of your window!

At the RUG we have a strong programme in light pollution. Here we make quantitative measurements of the night sky brightness, and analyse these, with the aim to find out whether light pollution in the Netherlands and Europe is increasing and why. We use these findings to show the public the negative effects of light pollution, and create awareness of the problem.

1. Regional Activities

I work a lot with Staatsbosbeheer on improving the Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer. Here, I led a team that built the  Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer. Telescope.  This is a robotic telescope, that is used by students of the University of Groningen. The telescope was built with a grant of the Gratama Stichting. Here you can find a powerpoint presentation about the building of the telescope.


The Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer. Telescope is located on the premises of Staatsbosbeheer. at the  Activiteitencentrum Lauwersnest. This activity center is open to the public, and has a permanent exhibition, about birds and astronomy. Below is a picture of the wall. On the left the wall on the far left, and on the right the back wall.

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I am co-leading a set of activities to create awareness for darkness in the North of the Netherlands. This is the programme 'Donkerte van de Wadden', funded by the Waddenfonds (2020-2024). This programme, of 1.5M euro, is a programme with lots of activities, of which we are a large partner. Project manager is Koosje Lamers. The programme is run by Science LinX,  the science center of our Faculty of Science and Engineering.

2. International activities

We are also a partner in 2 international projects, funded by INTERREG North Sea. Collaborators are my colleagues Jake Noel-Storr and Theo Jurriens, and various very motivated students.

A. Keep it Dark (KID)

In this project, running from Oct 2022 - March 2024, we collaborate with the universities of Oldenburg (Germany) and Aarhus (Denmark) to compare various sky brightness monitoring methods, to create a robust system for measuring light pollution.

One of the acrivities here is to expand the sensor network of SQM's across the North of the Netherlands. With this sensor network we are monitoring the night sky brightness in real time. We are expanding this network with a network of wide-angle camera's, making it possible to do the measurements in blue, green and red, and also calibrate the imaging with the stars observed here. We are doing this monitoring in 2 sites per network partner.

B. Darker Sky

This project, started in May 2023, lasting until September 2026, has 15 partners in France, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. The project includes 5 harbours, in which the partners run projects to reduce light pollution. Groningen is responsible for reducing the light pollution levels in the harbor of Lauwersoog. Here we are collaborating  with the Harbor Coalition in Lauwersoog and various other partners in the 'Projectgroep Masterplan Donkerte'. More information will follow!