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Czechs Take Aim at Light Pollution

April 07, 2002|From Washington Post

The Czech Republic has become the first country in the world to pass a law aimed at reducing light pollution, which has increasingly become a problem for astronomers trying to study the heavens.

The law, which passed both houses of Parliament and was signed by President Vaclav Havel on Feb. 27, goes into effect June 1. It requires citizens and groups to "take measures to prevent the occurrence of light pollution of the air," defining 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."

Violators will be subject to fines of up to 150,000 Czech crowns (about $4,200), according to a statement released recently at the International Dark-Sky Assn. annual conference in Tucson, Ariz.

"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," said Jenik Hollan, a Czech astronomer who pushed for the new law.

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