It is quite unfortunate that light pollution in many towns and cities in Tanzania restricts our viewing considerably. We live in a country that is renowned world over for its natural beauty. In most developed countries (and many developing countries also), ordinary people can no longer enjoy stargazing at their doorstep. They have to look for special sites on high mountains well away from urban centers. Tanzania has tried very hard to maintain its environment in a pristine state. The vast beautiful national parks and game reserves are in international focus for environmental preservation. We also educate the population and enforce environmental preservation of our land and water resources. But we also have to look at the atmospheric environment. Dust and smoke contribute significantly to poor viewing of stars, but the major culprit, especially in cities and towns, is light pollution. This is caused by millions of lights which are switched on at night, but rather than serving their intended purpose of lighting our houses and grounds they also light up the sky!
In many major municipalities, the problem is already quite severe. For example in Dar es Salaam, you can hardly see more than ten percent of the stars that would otherwise be visible with the naked eyes. If you look at this month’s star map, you can appreciate how serious the problem is. With the naked eyes, one can just make out the stars that are shown as dots. The bigger the dot, the brighter the star it represents. The rest of map is littered with myriads of tiny points, all of which we would have been able to see, had they not been blanketed by polluting light. However, it is not too late. We take care to reduce atmospheric pollution by smoke and other pollutants from factories, and make sure that all our lights are shaded so that none of their light is directed skyward. We will not only ensure dark skies but also save money by saving energy!
To document how much the sky is affected visit: