Light pollution worldwide is increasing faster than ever but why should we care?

Let's face it, there is a good chance you may not have much interest in astronomy and you may not have noticed the orange glow obscuring the night sky before. Perhaps you see other issues as more important than light pollution. If this is you, don't worry, you have come to the right place! This website has been set up to raise awareness of the impact of light pollution on everyone, not just astronomers, and why we should all be more concerned.

Question - is light pollution an unavoidable or inevitable side-effect of urban development and growth?

It doesn't have to be; the main cause of light pollution is badly aimed lights. The simple truth is that any poorly designed or misdirected light can shine into the sky rather than onto the ground or object it’s supposed to illuminate contributing to the typically orange haze, that many of us now see at night instead of the stars, called 'sky glow'.

But why should this matter to you?

We are all becoming increasingly concerned about the depletion of natural resources, carbon emissions and increases in fuel and energy prices due to the global economic down-turn. This careless waste of valuable energy is surely unacceptable. Unfortunately, this wasted energy that creates light pollution is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions each year that could be put to better use, your money!

It's costing the earth to light the sky!

Why is so little being done to avoid this waste when it’s so easy to reduce it?

How can you help?

For safety and especially in crime hot spots, we need illumination at night. There is a public misconception that reducing light pollution is all about turning off street and security lights; this is not necessarily the answer. It is not the intention of this campaign to alienate people through fear of darkness and crime. Instead, we can all take three simple steps to reduce it:

  • aim our outside lights down
  • ensure our security lights are fitted with motion sensors
  • use outside light sparingly, on a needs must basis: when needed, where needed, and in the correct amount.
it's as simple as that!

On a larger scale, the most effective way to reduce this visible and needless waste is by sharing your concerns with others and encourage them to take the three simple steps outlined above. Public tolerance towards light pollution is simply due to lack of awareness about the issues.

No wonder our tax bills are sky high when much of it ends up there!

Next time you notice the orange glow in the night sky, think about the careless waste of energy it represents and how it robs us of the wonders of the night sky.

The more people are aware of the issues and how to avoid light pollution, the more it will be treated as an issue of real importance. So please spread the word and link people to this page because as they say,

many hands make light work!


The Need-Less campaign has been set up to develop and provide new design ideas that raise awareness of light pollution. Unfortunately, 'anti-light pollution' campaigns have a very limited advertising budget which explains the lack of available design to promote the cause. The Need-Less campaign hopes to change this by working alongside other 'anti-light pollution' campaigns to offer entertaining and intriguing new concepts that appeal to the public for help. Anyone who would like to, may help the Need-Less campaign by spreading the word and by showing the Need-Less posters or animations in their website as a link to this campaign.


Would you like to raise awareness of light pollution and energy wastage in your community?

Here's a selection of flash animations you can use on your web site.
To make the animation player work and link correctly, please use this simple HTML code (below banner).
Once placed in your webpage, the animation player will load a different banner each time your page is visited. It will also update automatically when new animations are released throughout the campaign. The animation will link when clicked to the Need-Less website. It's easy to change the size of the animation player so that it looks great in your website by altering the width and height values in the code.

Click here to see all the animations.



Here is a selection of awareness posters available for anybody to print and display. You may help the campaign against light pollution and energy waste by printing and displaying a poster in a public place.

Please help us see an end to this...

more posters coming soon...



Email signatures are a great way to spread the anti-light pollution message.
Simply copy and paste the HTML code (below) into the signature section of your email program. The animated logo (right) should appear automatically at the bottom of your email messages and will link to this website when clicked.

<hr align="left" /><p align="left"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><img src="" /></a></p><p align="left"><font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><em>Reduce Light Pollution &amp; Save Energy</em></font></p><hr align="left" />


Reduce Light Pollution & Save Energy


Inefficient and misdirected light causing sky glow. (Photo taken at Downham, Essex, looking across Wickford)

100% of the light seen from here is wasted energy! From this rural location on top of a hill, none of these light sources should be directly visible. To prevent this waste of energy, all outside lights need to be correctly shielded and directed downwards to prevent light from escaping above the horizon into the sky.

If you have any images of light pollution you would like featured on the Need-Less website, please send to


The latest addition to the Need-Less campaign is this interactive night sky simulation.
It has been designed to raise awareness of the alarming scale of 'sky-glow'' in the UK.

Skyglow, the artificial brightening of the night sky, primarily caused by misdirected outdoor lighting, now threatens to destroy all natural darkness in the UK.

This simulator may be used as a tool to determine, with reasonable accuracy, the areas that are least affected by sky-glow and therefore best for astronomical observation. Use the map zoom bar for greater area detail and to find those dark places to enjoy the night sky.

Please choose the window size to suit your monitor, a smaller window will run faster on a slower machine.

simulator view:   small   large

COMING NEXT YEAR - A new version of this night sky simulator with the latest 2015/16 light map data with worldwide coverage and far greater accuracy by employing the excellent SKY QUALITY METER by Unihedron for calibration against real world observations.

How does it work?

This simulator uses a complex program that uses data from satellite imagery to calculate a realistic night sky-view for any location in the UK. The circular 'sky-view' window shows an inner-dome image similar to a planetarium view. This view shows how the real sky would appear to a ground based observer when looking up. The zenith overhead is shown in the center and the horizon around the edge.

On the map, the center point of the moveable target shows the observation point. The target arrow points toward the compass direction the observer is facing. This direction is shown in the lower part of the 'sky-view'. To rotate the view point, use the '< >' buttons, drag the target arrow or drag the sky-view window. Clicking the sky-view window will zoom in towards the horizon, click again to zoom out.

Distant towns will appear realistically as domes of light on the horizon. If the 'sky-view' is bright with fewer stars visible, this indicates 'sky-glow' from a large town nearby, or from viewing within an urban area.

The Sky Rating (top of simulator) gives the observation area an approximate dark-sky rating. This comprises a general 5 stars rating and for astronomers the limiting stellar visual magnitude (at zenith) and the popular 'Bortle dark sky scale' from 1(best) - 9(worst).

Press the 'render clouds' button to display clouds. Clouds are reflective and can appear very bright in the presence of light pollution. Conversely, from a good dark site, clouds will appear much darker overhead, sometimes only visible as gaps in the stars!

Questions and Answers

Q. What is that cloud-like band across the sky?

A. The cloud is millions of distant stars which form the Milky Way, our surrounding galaxy!

If you haven't seen it in the night sky before, you may live in an area that is badly affected by light pollution. It is well worth traveling to a darker area to observe this truly amazing sight.

Q. The 'sky-view' seems exaggerated, can sky-glow or the Milky Way really look that bright?

A. The generated 'sky-view' is designed to show up clearly on all monitors under varying room lighting, the brightness and contrast are therefore set quite high. However, if we consider how our perception of the night sky changes as our eyes adapt to the dark, the generated view is actually quite close to what we see. To a 'dark-adapted' observer, sky-glow will appear much brighter around urban areas and from a truly dark site, the Milky Way will appear very bright too. This is because the eyes can become fully dark-adapted and very sensitive to the light.

Please note: Due to a number of factors beyond the scope of this simulator, the observed conditions may differ from the calculated 'sky-view'. These factors include....

The eyesight of the observer.

Allowed time for dark adaption of the eyes. Any directly visible light sources will prevent good dark adaption of the eyes.

The atmospheric visibility and weather. The darkest and starriest nights often follow deep blue skies, not gray or hazy skies.

The time of Day. This seems obvious but although it may seem fairly dark after sunset, it is not as dark as it can get until the time of 'astronomical night' is reached.

The Moon if present will produce a lot of 'natural' sky-glow and glare, especially around full moon.

Local Light Pollution may be created by smaller towns or nearby lights which are unresolved by the map. If possible, observe from areas shaded or away from nearby light sources.

The orientation and visibility of the stars and Milky Way may differ from what is shown as this depends on the location and time of year.

The satellite data used to create the 'sky-view' is from 2000. It is estimated that light pollution is considerably more widespread now than is shown by the simulator. New satellite data will be used to improve the accuracy of this simulation if it becomes available.

zoom slider and map target

'sky-view' direction buttons

render clouds button

click on 'sky-view' to zoom in

Ratings show night sky quality

Placemarkers show areas of interest

View the coastline from the sea


This simulation has been designed to actively engage casual users to promote a comprehensive insight into the creation and avoidance of light pollution. The simple interface provides users the freedom to create varied lighting 'scenes' by positioning the light fixtures on screen. These are chosen from the range of available styles. The simulator responds realistically, by rendering the accumulative effects of good and bad lighting on the night-time environment. These effects are displayed in real time.

Please choose the window size to suit your monitor, a smaller window will run faster on a slower machine.

small   medium   large

About the simulation

Good outdoor lighting practice is easy to achieve if some simple rules are followed. The key point to remember is that we should only light the area that needs illumination.

Maximum efficiency is achieved when using the minimum amount of light required to see the illuminated surface, in this case, an empty car park. Any light which falls outside this area should be minimised, since misdirected light represents wasted energy and poor lighting practice.

Misdirected light also causes light pollution problems such as light trespass on nearby property, excessive glare and increased skyglow. These problems may easily be avoided by choosing the correct type of light fixture.

There are many designs of light fixtures to choose from, some designs are decorative whilst others offer more control over the distribution of light.

The best fixtures to use have 'full cut-off' optics that are specially designed to reflect any potentially wasted light back downwards, where it is needed. These lights, if installed correctly, may produce more useful light on the ground than other designs and consume less energy!

Above all, we should question the necessity of lighting up an area and only do so if and when it is necessary.


AVEX-ASSO.ORG - Fantastic Light Pollution Maps of Europe

Campaign to Protect Rural England - Light Pollution

Dark Skies for Northern Ireland

Dark Sky Society

Environmental Protection UK - Light Pollution

Light Pollution Image Library

Save the Night in Europe

The British Astronomical Association Campaign for Dark Skies

The Croydon Astronomical Society - Light Pollution

The International Dark Sky Association

Sky Quality Meter







The CfDS handbook is available, full of information about the detrimental effects of light pollution, and what you can do about them.

To order a copy, please send your name, address and a £3 cheque made payable to the "Campaign for Dark Skies" (to cover printing and postage), to:

The Campaign for Dark Skies,
38 The Vineries,
Wimborne BH21 2PX

The handbook consists of six chapters, including:

  1. The night sky and wasted light
  2. The adverse environmental effects of light pollution
  3. Lighting and Crime
  4. Human health implications of light pollution
  5. Not just an astronomers problem: wasted light and wasted money
  6. What actions can be taken by victims of light pollution
  7. Technical appendix


If you have any questions about the Need-Less campaign or have further design ideas, links or any information you would like to see added to this web site, please contact the Need-Less campaign by email.

Making these hugely popular simulations, animations and posters freely available consumes an increasing amount of time and bandwidth at the author's expense. If you would like to support the fight against light pollution, please make a small contribution towards the ongoing availability of this website and development of future campaign ideas.



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