Starry starry night? Not for most of us

Starry starry night? Not for most of us

Light pollution obscures the view of the Milky Way for 80% of Americans and one third of the world's population. This is evidenced by a new study.

Go out in the evening and look up. Even if it's not so cloudy, most likely you won't see much. A new study shows that 80% of Americans and one-third of the world's population cannot see the Milky Way galaxy because of the glow of city lights.

“We have whole generations of people in the United States who have never seen the Milky Way,” said Christopher Alvige, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“This is a big part of our connection with the cosmos - and it was lost,” he said.

By incorporating high-resolution images from the Suomi NPP (American meteorological satellite controlled by NOAA), scientists updated a 10-year atlas showing how artificial light fills the world's night sky.

The results show that the Milky Way is hidden from more than one third of humanity, including 60% of Europeans and nearly 80% of North Americans. About this in a paper published on Friday in Science Advances, Fabio Falchi wrote with colleagues from the Institute for Light Pollution in Thiene, Italy. “In addition, it’s 23% of the world's land surfaces between 75 ° north latitude and 60 ° south latitude, 88% of Europe, and almost half of the experience of light polluted US nights,” the authors say.

In some places, such as Singapore, there is so much light pollution that people have never seen a real night.

“In such places, most of the population lives under such a bright sky that their eyes cannot fully adapt to night vision,” the researchers say.

Of the G20 countries, Italy and South Korea have the highest light pollution, while Canada and Australia have the lowest.

“In Western Europe, only a few small areas are located where the night sky remains relatively unpolluted, including in areas of Scotland, Sweden, Norway and other parts of Spain and Austria,” the Dark-Sky International said in an appropriate press. release

If you dream of a dark sky, go to Chad, the Central African Republic, or Madagascar.

“More than three quarters of the inhabitants in these places live under the intact ink of the night sky,” the study concluded.

Astronomers in the United States can direct views of national parks that lie under some of the darkest skies in America. “Some of our national parks are the last refuge of darkness. This is Yellowstone and the deserts of the southwest, ”said study co-author Dan Dirisco.

Scott Fairbroom, executive director of the International Association of Dark-Sky, calls the atlas a “big breakthrough,” which will serve as a guideline for evaluating efforts to reduce light pollution in urban and natural areas.

“Light pollution does not just take away the possibility of admiring the night sky. Unnatural light can confuse or bring wild animals (insects, birds and sea turtles) to death, ”the press release says.

“Fortunately, light pollution can be controlled using light shielding in order to limit the brilliance in the immediate area, reduce the lighting to a minimum amount (or just turn them off),” said the agency.

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