Sky Quality Meter measurements in a colour-changing world

DOI: 
10.1093/mnras/stx145
Publication date: 
01/05/2017
Main author: 
Sánchez de Miguel, A.
IAA authors: 
Sánchez de Miguel, A.
Authors: 
Sánchez de Miguel, A.;Aubé, M.;Zamorano, J.;Kocifaj, M.;Roby, J.;Tapia, C.
Journal: 
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Refereed: 
Yes
Publication type: 
Article
Volume: 
467
Pages: 
2966-2979
Abstract: 

The Sky Quality Meter (SQM) has become the most common device used to track the evolution of the brightness of the sky from polluted regions to first-class astronomical observatories. A vast database of SQM measurements already exists for many places in the world. Unfortunately, the SQM operates over a wide spectral band and its spectral response interacts with the sky's spectrum in a complex manner. This is why the optical signals are difficult to interpret when the data are recorded in regions with different sources of artificial light. The brightness of the night sky is linked in a complex way to ground-based light emissions, while taking into account atmospheric-induced optical distortion as well as spectral transformation from the underlying ground surfaces. While the spectral modulation of the sky's radiance has been recognized, it still remains poorly characterized and quantified. The impact of the SQM's spectral characteristics on sky-brightness measurements is analysed here for different light sources, including low- and high-pressure sodium lamps, PC-amber and white LEDs, metal halide and mercury lamps. We show that a routine conversion of radiance to magnitude is difficult, or rather impossible, because the average wavelength depends on actual atmospheric and environment conditions, the spectrum of the source and device-specific properties. We correlate SQM readings with both the Johnson astronomical photometry bands and the human system of visual perception, assuming different lighting technologies. These findings have direct implications for the processing of SQM data and for their improvement and/or remediation.

Database: 
ADS
SCOPUS
URL: 
https://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-85022212960&doi=10.1093%2fmnras%2fstx145&partnerID=40&md5=fb5e8fca9f600a3d94d052deb063fdfd
ADS Bibcode: 
2017MNRAS.467.2966S
Keywords: 
atmospheric effects;instrumentation: miscellaneous;instrumentation: photometers;light pollution;methods: data analysis;techniques: spectroscopic;Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics