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Sky-42TM: Patent approved for unique technology developed by Pendoley Environmental

Light pollution is the term used to describe the increasing levels of artificial light found in urban and developed areas around the world, which are decreasing the natural darkness of the night sky horizon. Artificial light at night influences marine turtle behaviour and, where levels of artificial light are greater than ambient or celestial light from the moon and stars, confuses natural orientation cues in adult and hatchling turtles of all species, both on the nesting beach and offshore.

To address this issue, there needed to be a effective way of measuring and quantifying artificial light at night - which is much more difficult than it sounds. Many years ago, a concerned Dr Kellie Pendoley, in collaboration with Dr Arie Veneer from the Perth Observatory, began researching new methods for the collection and analysis of high-quality, meaningful information on ambient light.

Managing changes to the night-sky horizon requires quantification of ambient light levels. Light-measuring equipment currently available on the market, and used throughout industry, does not accurately measure light in the wavelengths that turtles are most sensitive to. Despite its prevalence within the field of environmental assessment, the information obtained using that equipment is biologically meaningless when applied to the field of marine turtle biology.

To address the lack of quality data, the collaboration between Pendoley Environmental and Perth Observatory resulted in the now trade-marked “Sky-42TM”, an imaging instrument that is both rugged and automated for use in the field. Following several years of on-going research, in-house development, and field testing of equipment, Pendoley Environmental applied to patent the technology and approval was granted last week.

The patent process seeks confirmation that the technology is unique and that claims regarding its features are accurate. Sky-42TM technology is at the international fore-front of light monitoring methods and was recently showcased at the ALAN 2013 Conference on Artificial Light at Night, held in Berlin, Germany. The abstract is available here (page 71). Now successfully patented within Australia, this development represents an important step toward raising standards in light monitoring and management within Australia and further afield.

Pendoley Environmental continues to explore ways in which the technology can be applied to data-collection for environmental management. An update on recent developments will be presented at the ALAN 2014 Conference on Artificial Light at Night, held later this year in Leicester, UK. Dr Kellie Pendoley will highlight novel methods for application of information gathered using Sky-42TM that integrate collected light-level data with biological data.

Ongoing in-house R&D into the methods and applications of Sky-42TM technology ensures that Pendoley Environmental remains at the forefront of techniques for monitoring and management of light pollution.