Air Pollution in Hong Kong

May 18, 2005

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Provided and copyright by: Andrew Yee
Summary authors & editor: Andrew Yee

The photo above shows the shadow of the Earth rising over Hong Kong, just after sunset on 20 March 2005. A band of pink sky reclines on top of the shadow. This pink glow, referred to as the Belt of Venus, arises from the scattered reddened light at sunset. On this day, however, haze in the lower atmosphere reduced the visibility of the phenomenon.

Looking east from the Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, this view gives a different perspective of the cityscape compared to the view from the sea level -- see the Earth Science Picture of the Day for January 18, 2005. After dark, colorful light from buildings offers one of the most spectacular city nighttime skylines in the world, as shown in the lower image.

Unfortunately, copious amounts of stray light spill into the sky and causes severe light pollution in most areas in Hong Kong. Often, only the brightest planets and stars are visible in the night sky, such as the stars of the constellation Orion. Light pollution is also harmful to birds, as they can become confused and trapped in bright light. This sometimes results in fatal collisions with buildings. Coincidentally, the day after these images were taken, this photographer saw several deceased birds on a short stretch of a pedestrian walk adjacent to a tall office tower.

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