Illuminated ski trail at Semmering-Hirschenkogel
The light scatter cone above the illuminated trail in Lower Austria was photographed from Ebenwaldhöhe 42 kilometres away

Illuminated ski trails in Austria


Energy-intensive illumination for ski trails has become a tourist attraction in our part of the world. Along with snowmaking systems, illuminated trails are now almost a standard feature of Austrian ski areas.


In many cases the illumination is operated for 3 to 4 hours, 4 to 6 days a week throughout the winter season. The system illuminates the white snow, which reflects the light – usually with excessive intensity – far and wide into the surroundings.


This has negative impacts on wild animals in the form of disturb rest periods, barrier effects and displacement. It is possible to mitigate these negative impacts. For more information, go to Sports facility operators >>


A typical example is the illuminated trail at the Semmering-Hirschenkogel Ski Area. "Because of the elevation, the light cone is visible within a radius of up to fifty kilometres – in a region that is otherwise relatively dark and correspondingly popular with amateur astronomers," says Dr. Walter Koprolin, an astronomer and astrophotographer.



The Post Tower bird trap


On this 160 m high-rise building in Bonn, fluorescent tubes and spots with an average power consumption of 75 KW not only waste valuable energy; they also create a death trap for numerous birds (Hüppop in Posch, Freyhoff & Uhlmann, 2010).


From October 2006 to November 2007, Heiko Haupt investigated the effects of the illuminated Post Tower. His findings: well over a thousand birds representing 29 different species were drawn to the light; 200 of them were killed immediately when they collided with the structure and many more were injured (Haupt, 2008).


Further observations carried our in autumn 2009 showed that more than 90 percent of all birds displayed disturbed behaviour on entering the cone of light, including circular flight, loss, change or reversal of direction, and changes of speed (Haupt & Schillemeit, 2011).



The Maharaja’s Palace trimmed with lightbulbs

Illuminated Maharaja’s Palace


The south Indian city of Mysore offers a Sunday spectacular of a truly "illuminated" kind.


Almost 100,000 lightbulbs installed on the palace facades are switched on and the Maharaja’s wasteful splendour celebrated for one hour.






Please note that the "Light Blight" list is not complete. Please let me know if you come across any further examples of bad lighting practice.