Where Did Those Starry Nights Go?

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Standing on the rooftop. Looking at the stars and our galaxy, the Milky Way. We see this quite a lot in movies or in books. But the truth is, we never really got to see them.

Everyone knows about water, air and sound pollution. We have read about it in schools, made projects and presentations on it, but how does it affects the skies?

Anyone who raises the issue of pollution is called an environment fanatic and is largely ignored. Still, there is one type of pollution not everybody knows about but which is still affecting us in a major way. Light pollution.

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Source: Wikipedia

Look at the image above. The top portion shows the skies of a small rural town which does not have as many light sources as a metropolitan area, which is depicted below. You can see the sharp contrast in visibility in the two portions.

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Hong Kong: Most light polluted city on Earth

Source: Cnn

So what is light pollution?

Light pollution is a broad term that refers to multiple problems, all of which are caused by inefficient, unappealing, or (arguably) unnecessary use of artificial light (Wikipedia).

In 2016, one-third of the planet could no longer see milky-way, one of the most visible objects in the sky. In the US it was even worse as over 80% Americans could not view our galaxy.

What are its adverse effects?

Other than visibility, there are many other problems as retention of light in the atmosphere, obstruction for astronomy and visibility problems, especially for us.

One major effect is has is on plants and animals who have relied on Earth's day-night cycles for millions of years. We disrupted this cycle by lighting up the nights (effectively turning night into day), adversely affecting all animals and plants.

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Our new visibility spectrum

Source: Stellarium

Can we prevent it or reduce its severity?

Yes, we can. In many places there have been some measures taken so as to turn the streetlights downwards so that they only illuminate the road. Cities have been instructed as to lower the usage of light in festivals like Christmas so as to keep the pollution at the minimum. At the individual level we must strive to keep the usage of light sources as low as possible. This could also have an added benefit of saving electricity as light sources use one-fourth of all electricity consumed over the world.

The above video shows our world without light pollution

The beautiful skies that we once could see from our very own houses are now not seen from anywhere except those places which do not have light. This was a necessary darkness that we lost as soon as we started over illuminating every corner of our cities with complete disregard to what could be the effects thereafter (arguably, that is the case with every kind of pollution).

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A view that is lost for many of us

Source: Idadarksky

Feel free to write us your opinions below!

Title image: Siwallpaperhd

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