Hong Kong could be one of the worst light pollution hotspots in the world, with a spot in Tsim Sha Tsui having a brightness level 1,200 times the international standard for a dark sky, according to a recent survey by the University of Hong Kong.
The survey, conducted from 2010 until earlier this year, took over 5 million brightness measurements from a network of 18 monitoring stations set up on building roofs across the city.
It found that the brightness level was between 20 and 1,200 times that of a dark sky free of human light interference as defined by the International Astronomical Union.
Hong Kong’s worst bright spot is at the Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui, which faces directly across the harbour to Hong Kong Island with its large corporate names, logos and advertisements perched on the roofs of office and commercial buildings.
While rural areas, as expected, generally had lower brightness levels, they were, however, still regarded as bright when compared to standards overseas. At Astropark in Sai Kung, the brightness was still 20 times that of a dark sky.
“In big European cities, like Madrid, their brightness levels are just around 100 times that of the dark sky. But here in Hong Kong, they are hundreds to over a thousand times [higher],” said Dr Jason Pun Chun-shing, the principal investigator from the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Physics that conductiong the survey.
The findings come just as World Wildlife Federation is organising the Earth Hour event this Saturday when it asks the public to turn off their lights for an hour.
Pun said he would like to see the government introduce more effective measures to curb light pollution, rather than give the public voluntary guidelines to follow.
Full survey results can be found at www.cpao.hku.hk/media/130319science.e.pdf