Dark Sky Monitoring in Hungary

Dark Sky Monitoring in Hungary ( pdf)
Zolt´an Koll´ath (Konkoly Observatory, Budapest, Hungary), Zolt´an Szegv´ari (Duna-Dr´ava National Park Directorate), Istv´an Gyarmathy (Hortob´agy National Park Directorate), and Andr´as Pint´er (Duna-Dr´ava National Park Directorate)
The Hungarian protected area network almost overlaps with the dark-sky areas. This fact indicates their mission in protecting dark skies, as nature conservation is deeply interrelated with protecting the nocturnal landscape. Our goal was to identify those areas which could be suitable for nomination to be dark-sky parks. Our primary targets are the Zselic Landscape Protection Area and the Hortob´agy National Park. The Ministry of Environment and Water has approved the accentuated inclusion of dark-sky awareness in the management plans. Policy against light pollution will be included in the management plans of all the national parks and protected areas. As a consequence of our efforts, the new Hungarian ‘Law for Protection of Nature’ includes the possibility to control artificial lights in protected areas. A special monitoring program has been started to survey the quality of the night sky using Sky Quality Meters (SQM) and DSLR cameras in the protected areas. We developed a program package to calibrate and display luminance distributions in raw images taken by a DSLR camera. Images, taken by fish-eye lens at different locations, help to pinpoint polluting sources. The main conclusion of our measurements is that the local settlements have only a minimal effect on the quality of the sky. The luminance is only slightly increased in the vicinity of the small villages. There are light-domes due to the neighbouring cities only close to the horizon. We will nominate both protected areas for the ‘Dark Sky Park program’ of the International Dark-Sky Association during this year.

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