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The Fourth European Dark-Sky Symposium, Paris 2004
ASTRONOMY NOW SPECIAL REPORT
Posted: September 30, 2004

   


Delegates from ten European countries gathered outside the historic Paris Observatory. Click the image for a larger version.

Image credit: Bob Mizon.


   
Set in the venerable surroundings of the Paris Astrophysical Institute in the grounds of the old Paris Observatory on September 24th and 25th, this symposium was hosted by the Association Nationale pour la Protection du Ciel Nocturne (ANPCN) and the Société Astronomique de France (SAF), with the collaboration of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Delegates were given a tour of the buildings (with instruments and images from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries), and mounted the great spiral staircases to the dome where Cassini, Le Verrier and Arago observed in their time.

About 70 delegates from dark-sky movements in ten European countries, and a contingent from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), came together with environmentalists, biologists, local government officers and lighting professionals, to discuss progress and challenges in the international dark-skies debate, and to plan future campaigning. The well-known French-Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, who specialises in the effects of human activities on the world's fauna, chaired the first session.

Seven members/supporters of the BAA Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS) attended. Among the many subjects discussed were: the impact of night-time lighting on flora and fauna (Florent Lamiot, Nord/Pas de Calais Regional Environment Manager); the massive environmental impact of light escaping from greenhouses in the Netherlands (Wim Schmidt); and the highly successful activities of the Flemish night-sky campaigners who have persuaded 160 Belgian towns to participate in "Nights of Darkness", switching off numbers of lamps to facilitate observing.

U.K. delegates told the assembly about the positive Select Committee report of 2003, and the new ODPM planning regulations now in the pipeline. Important steps towards better night skies are being taken in many other countries. The IDA section leaders also debated strategies and successes in a separate session.

The next Dark-Sky Symposium will be in Belgium in April 2005, and it has been decided that CfDS will host the 2006 event. Further details from Bob Mizon via the Campaign Web site, http://www.dark-skies.org/.

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