Ominous orange glow in west London night sky explained

Image above: the glow; photograph by @SeanStillmaker

Air pollution? Aliens? Roadworks?!

The reason for the recent ominous orange glow in the night sky has been revealed, after a number of west London residents questioned the phenomenon on social media.

A wide orange glow could be seen for miles around west London, the recent foggy weather making it look like a scene from Independence Day (1996) from certain perspectives.

The glow has appeared as early as sunset on some days and was still visible until sunrise. Some attributed it to air pollution, while others blamed Heathrow Airport, roadworks, aliens, or a particularly large fire.

Image above: Tweet by Sarah Kern

Not aliens

It turns out the real reason, according to Steve Honey, the head groundsman at Brentford FC, is that Brentford Community Stadium’s pitch has been over-seeded and overnight illumination has been necessary to encourage the grass to grow back after heavy use of the pitch this season.

Residents in Stile Hall Gardens complained to the football club and to Hounslow environmental department, as light can be pollution, just like noise can. So far, they say, they have been “fobbed off” by the club.

As the weather has got better the problem has diminished. “On a clear night it is much less obvious” one of the residents of Stile Hall Gardens, Philip Timms, told The Chiswick Calendar. His house is one of the nearest to the stadium.

He says Sally Stephens, who handles community engagement for the club, told him they would talk to their lighting manufacturers to see what could be done, but he is sceptical about how quickly that will produce results.

“They told us that two years ago” he said.

“The issue of grow lights at night was never addressed in the planning application for the stadium. Floodlights were mentioned, grow lights were not.”

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