‘Orange haze’ in the skies over Crawley thwarts stargazers

amateur astronomer Paul Foster with telescope. He is concerned about light pollution and is looking for somewhere on the edge of the town where he can erect an observatory. Pic Steve Robards SR1611740 SUS-160425-152943001
amateur astronomer Paul Foster with telescope. He is concerned about light pollution and is looking for somewhere on the edge of the town where he can erect an observatory. Pic Steve Robards SR1611740 SUS-160425-152943001

An amateur astronomer is calling for half the street lights in Crawley to be turned off after midnight ... so that stargazers can see the planets.

Paul Foster, of Town Mead, West Green, says that it is currently impossible to see the night skies because of light pollution.

The 'organge haze' of light pollution over Crawley SUS-160425-162924001

The 'organge haze' of light pollution over Crawley SUS-160425-162924001

He says it is so bad that he has had to dismantle an observatory he had in his back garden and store it in his garage.

And now he’s taken to social media to see if anyone in the countryside around Crawley can offer him a small piece of land on which to site his currently-unused observatory so that he can clearly study the stars.

Paul, 52, said: “Light pollution in Crawley generally is terrible.

“Realistically, our skies are no longer black - they are orange.

“If you go out to somewhere like Rusper or Charlwood and look back at Crawley there is an orange haze above the town.

“Nationally, it is getting so bad now that probably the next generation are going to be completely losing their view of the night sky.”

Paul, who is vice chairman of the East Sussex Astronomical Society, is also a sci-fi fan and has been interested in astronomy since the age of nine when he got his first telescope.

But he says he has never come across anything unidentifiable in the night skies, “although I’d love to believe there is something out there.

“We can’t be alone but unfortunately if they landed on the lawn of the White House, someone would shoot them.”

He says he has been in touch with Crawley Borough Council, West Sussex County Council and the Campaign for Dark Skies.

“West Sussex don’t really understand the problem, I think.

“They put up lots of street lights without really looking at the environmental impact on the sky.

“Astronomers are in the minority. If people say we need street lights to combat crime and so on, we’ll get street lights.

“However, if the area is lighter, crime will probably increase because burglars can see what they are doing.

“What we need to do is turn off 50 per cent of the street lights.

“If the council turned off every other street light after midnight we’d have 50 per cent less pollution and the council would save 50 per cent on its electric bill - and ultimately that’s got to be a good thing.”