Imaging and mapping the impact of clouds on skyglow with all-sky photometry

Andreas Jechow, Zoltán Kolláth, Salvador J. Ribas, Henk Spoelstra, Franz Hölker, Christopher C.M. Kyba

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21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Artificial skyglow is constantly growing on a global scale, with potential ecological consequences ranging up to affecting biodiversity. To understand these consequences, worldwide mapping of skyglow for all weather conditions is urgently required. In particular, the amplification of skyglow by clouds needs to be studied, as clouds can extend the reach of skyglow into remote areas not affected by light pollution on clear nights. Here we use commercial digital single lens reflex cameras with fisheye lenses for all-sky photometry. We track the reach of skyglow from a peri-urban into a remote area on a clear and a partly cloudy night by performing transects from the Spanish town of Balaguer towards Montsec Astronomical Park. From one single all-sky image, we extract zenith luminance, horizontal and scalar illuminance. While zenith luminance reaches near-natural levels at 5 km distance from the town on the clear night, similar levels are only reached at 27 km on the partly cloudy night. Our results show the dramatic increase of the reach of skyglow even for moderate cloud coverage at this site. The powerful and easy-to-use method promises to be widely applicable for studies of ecological light pollution on a global scale also by non-specialists in photometry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6741
JournalScientific reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - dec. 1 2017

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