Saturday, June 25, 2016

Two Light Pollution Letters in ST Forum

Two well written letters regarding Singapore being recently "crowned" the world #1 worst offender of light pollution was published in today's The Straits Times Forum.

You may read them online here:

Many benefits to making S'pore less bright - by Ben Chen Bin

Combating light pollution a shared responsibility - by Wee Shiang Ning

Early last year, there was a Straits Times (ST) report mentioning about a huge light up project near the roads along Changi Airport as part of the massive SG50 celebrations. I have written to ST Forum to highlight issues of potential light pollution and its harm to humans and wildlife especially in that area. And also questioned the necessity of the massive costs involved in such a huge lighting up project.

The administrator wrote back to me quickly acknowledging my letter. This is the first indication of any letter potentially being published in ST Forum. Else one will not receive any reply at all. She mentioned it may need to be condensed and may be published if the editor is okay with it. And in accordance to the ST Forum policies, I cannot published it anywhere so that ST can have exclusivity to this letter if published.

In the end, there was no follow up and my letter was not published. Perhaps one local voice against the massive at-all-costs celebratory mood of SG50 was an inconvenient truth?

Anyway, so happy to see the above-mentioned two letters being published now offline and online by the biggest local English newspaper in Singapore.

Again, one less excuse for the authorities to fake ignorance and seriousness of this light pollution issue in Singapore. Unless they deem reading ST Forum letters regularly to understand public sentiments is a total waste of their time.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Singapore is #1 most light polluted country in the world

On 10th June 2016, the prestigious Science magazine published the research article "The New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness."

Under the 20 Most Polluted Country By Population chart, guess who is #1?


Sorry Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Israel, Argentina, Libya, Trinidad & Tobago, Iraq, Canada, Brunei, West Bank, Greece, Gibraltar, Malta, Spain, Chile and Iceland! Better luck next time! :)

Quickly tweeted it to raise awareness of this issue:

Was hoping some local newspaper will pick it up and report about it. Even if it's just a small corner beside the horoscope section. :P

Imagine my excitement seeing today's The New Paper ... ...


No more hiding now. No more excuses (didn't read about it in the news because it was hidden somewhere inside, researchers are not scientific or credible, but crime rates will go up (no clear scientific basis), blah blah blah).

Dear local authorities, ball is in your court now. The world is watching.

Shared some of my thoughts on Facebook after reading this newspaper article. Reproducing it here for your reading pleasure:


Singapore #1 again! This time it's Light Pollution!

Thank you The New Paper for featuring light pollution on their front page today. Go grab a copy and read it!

Click here to read the research article "The New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness":

For decades (when Milky Way was still visible in Singapore back then), local stargazers have been highlighting this issue but the local authorities and media paid little attention.

Now that light pollution makes Singapore World Number 1, we hope that will change! This is also in line with our country's ambition to reduce our carbon footprint by 36% by 2030 (source:

Due to limited printed media space and occasional science miscommunication due to tight reporting datelines, sometimes people are mis-quoted in news reports (happened to us too).
Raising awareness about light pollution in Singapore is great. But we do not wish such articles to inadvertently discourage potential newcomers from taking up and enjoying this wonderful hobby.

So we would like to comment a few issues mentioned in this news article:

(1) New Zealand and USA definitely have many pristine clear sky areas to indulge in the stargazing passion and look deeper into space. Definitely worth visiting at least once in our lifetime as stargazers.

But if you cannot afford the travel expenses or time, dark clear sky areas in neighbouring countries do offer very good clear skies too.

And you can enjoy stargazing over the weekend there without applying for work leave (e.g. Friday evening departure, Sunday afternoon back in Singapore).

(2) Filters can help improve the stargazing experience in light polluted Singapore. But do not expect them to do wonders - they will not totally remove it.

(3) In addition to using filters to do deep-sky viewing through a telescope, one can also make use of video astronomy to view these objects projected on a screen. Prices of CCD camera connected to telescopes have been dropping over the years, making this technique relatively affordable.

(4) Technically, the world "stargazing" does not include Moon and the planets. But to the general public, these are considered part of stargazing too. For such bright objects (compared to dim stars), as long as the sky is clear enough, once can still enjoy observing them through telescopes despite light pollution and lack of filters. There is also no need always go to the darkest sites in Singapore just to see them. You may even observe them in the comfort of your own room if you have a good window view of the sky!

And of course for observing our nearest star the Sun (safely through certified solar filters), light pollution is a non issue.

(5) On a clear enough night in Singapore, the brighter star clusters and star cloud (nebulae) and even galaxies can be seen through telescopes. We have done so for years at the brightly lit open ground just outside Toa Payoh Public Library and Bishan Park McDonald's and sharing such views with the public.

Light pollution is NOT just a stargazer's problem. It affects health of humans and animals. Please visit International Dark-Sky association for more information:

To conclude, do not be discourage by light pollution if you want to stargaze in Singapore (or any urban city). There is still hope to see some of the cosmic wonders that is still visible now and hope that the local authorities will do something about it.