Appello di Luca Zaggia, di VenetoStellato, a Brian Schmidt e Saul Perlmutter, candidati per i prossimi Nobel, ospiti a Padova in occasione della manifestazione “PADOVA CITTà DELLE STELLE”.
Dear Saul and Brian, I’m a researcher of the Institute for Marine Sciences of the Italian National Research Council, Venice (Italy) and an amateur astronomer, during happy hours. I want congratulate with you for the award “Padova Città delle Stelle” the City’s Authorities will assign you in the framework of the celebrations for Galileo Galilei and I hope to be present on Friday night’s ceremony. Also, I would like to take some minutes of your time to ask you to reflect on the meaning of the price you are getting from this city.
Padova Città delle Stelle means Padova the City of Stars and this sound as if it really has, or want to achieve a pristine sky, as those you have in remote areas of your countries. Unfortunately that’s not true, and we have here severe problems of light pollution which prevents the observation of the heaven even from and rural areas. Our region was the first in Italy, and one of the first in the world, to have an environmental regulation for the prevention of light pollution. Amazingly, after eight years, our city’s governments are still ignoring the existence of that law and are installing polluting luminaries which are the cause of an exponential decrease of the sky quality in the region. The former administrators of Padova were sued for not respecting that law in public works and the present team still have to adopt any of the required measures. This is not an issue for professional astronomers, who observe from remote peaks or from outside the atmosphere, thats why your colleagues from the university of Padova never complain, but it’s a cultural damage anyway especially for a city like Padova, the site of one of the oldest astronomy courses.
In fact, if we can accept that with the present trend the new generations will hardly recognise the constellations, we cannot say we aren’t worried if today’s students of the university courses on astronomy, the future heirs of Galilei’s tradition, have never seen the outline of our galaxy, the milky way, contrasting on the black ceiling painted with mythic asterism, still unknown to them, but which will, one day, characterise the pages of their academic works. If in 1997 one of the main reasons to invent a law against light pollution was the defence of the research activities of professional and public observatories, today to respect that law has become fundamental to preserve the few remnants of what we used to call “the heavens”.
As a member of Venetostellato and Cielobuio, the local and Italian correspondent of International Dark Sky Association (IDA) I ask you to help us sustaining our efforts in the defence of the night environment. We don’t want you to complain about that with people here, but just a few words from world renown scientists as you are can be of great help for us. If you have time, let’s have a look to the www.cielobuio.org web site, it has an English translation and it’s full of technical detail and of images of our sky monsters. I attach to this message a postcard of the night sky above Padova I took a couple of years ago. I look forward to meet you on Friday night.
Sincerely, Luca Zaggia.
La risposta di Brian Schmidt:
I share your concern for the nighttime sky. We here in Canberra are continually trying to preserve the nighttime sky for our observatory
(which has now unfortunately burned down), but also for the people. The vast majority of people of Canberra, and I presume Padova,
unfortunately want light, and it would seem that more is better. Here in Canberra, we try to strike a reasonable balance, and rather than
insisting on Low Pressure Sodium, which people do not like, ask for High Pressure Sodium, but ask/beg for full shielding. Ultimately it is a
political decision on what balance is struck. I encourage you to persevere in your attempts to move the balance towards seeing the stars