The Czech Republic recently became
the first country to enact national legislation with provisions aimed
at eliminating light pollution. This news was announced today at the
annual conference of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in
Tucson, Arizona.

Known as the “Protection of the Atmosphere Act,” the bill passed both
houses of parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate) and was signed
into law by President Vaclav Havel on February 27, 2002. It takes
effect June 1, 2002, and addresses light and other kinds of air
pollution.

The law defines “light pollution” as “every form of illumination by
artificial light which is dispersed outside the areas it is dedicated
to, particularly if directed above the level of the horizon.” Under
the law, Czech Republic citizens and organizations are obligated to
“take measures to prevent the occurrence of light pollution of the
air.”

The landmark legislation closely resembles the “Lombardy Law,” which
was enacted in the Lombardy region of Italy after 25,000 citizens
signed petitions demanding action against obtrusive outdoor lighting.

Key to compliance with the new Czech Republic law is the use of fully
shielded light fixtures. The International Dark-Sky Association
(IDA) defines these as “fixtures that emit no light above the
horizontal direction.” Citizens and organizations found in violation
of the law’s anti-light pollution provisions will be subject to fines
ranging from 500 to 150,000 Czech crowns.

Czech Republic astronomer Jenik Hollan, a member of the IDA, was
instrumental in promoting and drafting the legislation. “Support was
very good and no serious objections have appeared,” said Hollan, a
resident of Brno who works at the Nicholas Copernicus Observatory and
Planetarium. “Many of my fellow citizens are as concerned as I am
about the glare created by poorly designed lighting; they’re happy
action was taken.”

Pavel Suchan, of the Stefanik Observatory in Prague, and the Czech
Astronomical Society also lobbied for the new legislation, which
Hollan says is already paying off: “In downtown Brno, fully shielded
fixtures are becoming the norm and the improvement is spectacular.”

Dr. David L. Crawford, astronomer and volunteer executive director of
the IDA, views the Czech Republic legislation as “a great leap
forward” in combating light pollution around the globe. “We applaud
the Czechs and are committed to helping other governments enact
similar legislation,” Crawford said. “Fully shielded light fixtures
not only help preserve the beauty of the starry sky, but they also
illuminate more efficiently and allow people to see better at night.”

* * *

Contacts:

Elizabeth Alvarez,

Associate Director,

International Dark-Sky Association (http://www.darksky.org)

3225 North First Avenue

Tucson, AZ 85719 USA=20

520 293-3198

ida@darksky.org

Bob Gent

IDA European Liaison Officer

rlgent1@aol.com

Jenik Hollan (http://www.astro.cz/darksky)

Nicholas Copernicus Observatory and Planetarium

Kravi hora 2

Brno 616 00

Czech Republic

+420 (5) 41 32 12 87

hollan@ped.muni.cz