Red is the new black: how the colour of urban skyglow varies with cloud cover




The development of street lamps based on solid-state lighting technology is likely to introduce a major change in the colour of urban skyglow (one form of light pollution). We demonstrate the need for long-term monitoring of this trend by reviewing the influences it is likely to have on disparate fields. We describe a prototype detector which is able to monitor these changes, and could be produced at a cost low enough to allow extremely widespread use. Using the detector, we observed the differences in skyglow radiance in red, green and blue channels. We find that clouds increase the radiance of red light by a factor of 17.6, which is much larger than that for blue (7.1). We also find that the gradual decrease in sky radiance observed on clear nights in Berlin appears to be most pronounced at longer wavelengths.