Light pollution is the adverse effect of excessive and inappropriate artificial light. It brightens the night sky so that stars are invisiable. City children grow up under a hazy orange night sky and few can identify the constellations.
In 2008, 23,000 participated in the annual "Nacht van de Duisternis" across 109 municipalities. Street lighting can be reduced, spotlights on monuments and buildings can be turned off. Many of the big illuminated advertisements are already switched off at night as more and more municipalities take light pollution seriously.
Earth Hour starts at 20h30 when the World Wildlife Fund is hoping that one billion people will turn their lights off for one hour. This would send a strong signal to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.
In 2007, Earth Hour began in Sydney when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched their lights off for just one hour. In 2008, 50 million people participated. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome's Colliseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square, new York all plunged into darkness.
In Flanders some places are running special presentations about astronomy or events associated with darkness eg Aalter (presentation on astronomical photography), Beveren-Maas (family treasure hunt by torch light in Cortewalle Casdtle), Bruges (guided darkness walks), Deenderleeuw (evening concert in the candlelit town square), Genk (Planetarium), Gent (Armand Pien Astronomical Observatory), Grimbergen (lecture on light pollution), Kortrijk (guided walks), Rumst (talk on local bats and owls with a country walk and Westerlo(guided walks in the dark). Full details on: www.nachtvandeduisternis.be
Source: Flanders Today, 18 March 2008