Lighting Madrid’s night sky

Robles, J., Zamorano, J., Pascual, S., Sánchez de Miguel, A., Gallego, J. & Gaston, K.J. 2021. Evolution of brightness and color of the night sky in Madrid. Remote Sensing 13, 1511.

Major schemes to replace other streetlight technologies with Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lamps are being undertaken across much of the world. This is predicted to have important consequences for nighttime sky brightness and color. Here, we report the results of a long-term study of these characteristics focused on the skies above Madrid. The sky brightness and color monitoring station at Universidad Complutense de Madrid (inside the city) collected Johnson B, V, and R sky brightness data, Sky Quality Meter (SQM), and Telescope Encoder Sky Sensor-WiFi (TESS-W) broadband photometry throughout the night, every night between 2010-2020. Our analysis includes a data filtering process that can be used with other similar sky brightness monitoring data. Major changes in sky brightness and color took place during 2015-2016, when a sizable fraction of the streetlamps in Madrid changed from High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) to LEDs. The sky brightness detected in the Johnson B band darkened by 14% from 2011 to 2015 and brightened by 32% from 2015 to 2019.