Milky Way now hidden from one-third of humanity

June 10, 2016, University of Colorado at Boulder
Light pollution now blots out the Milky Way for eight in 10 Americans. Bright areas in this map show where the sky glow from artificial lighting blots out the stars and constellations. An international team of researchers has released the new World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness, in a paper published in Science Advances today. Credit: Falchi et al, Science Advances; Jakob Grothe/National Park Service, Matthew Price/CIRES/CU-Boulder.

The Milky Way, the brilliant river of stars that has dominated the night sky and human imaginations since time immemorial, is but a faded memory to one third of humanity and 80 percent of Americans, according to a new global atlas of light pollution produced by Italian and American scientists.

Light pollution is one of the most pervasive forms of environmental alteration. In most developed countries, the ubiquitous presence of artificial lights creates a luminous fog that swamps the stars and constellations of the .

"We've got whole generations of people in the United States who have never seen the Milky Way," said Chris Elvidge, a scientist with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information in Boulder, Colorado. "It's a big part of our connection to the cosmos—and it's been lost."

Elvidge, along with Kimberly Baugh of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, is part of a team that just updated a global atlas of light pollution published today in the journal Science Advances. Using high-resolution satellite data and precision sky brightness measurements, their study produced the most accurate assessment yet of the global impact of light pollution.

"I hope that this atlas will finally open the eyes of people to light pollution," said lead author Fabio Falchi from the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute in Italy.

The atlas takes advantage of low-light imaging now available from the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, calibrated by thousands of ground observations.

Light pollution is most extensive in countries like Singapore, Italy and South Korea, while Canada and Australia retain the most dark sky. In western Europe, only small areas of night sky remain relatively undiminished, mainly in Scotland, Sweden and Norway. Despite the vast open spaces of the American west, almost half of the U.S. experiences light-polluted nights.

"In the U.S., some of our national parks are just about the last refuge of darkness - places like Yellowstone and the desert southwest," said co-author Dan Duriscoe of the National Park Service. "We're lucky to have a lot of public land that provides a buffer from large cities."

The Milky Way dissappears in Berlin's light-dome. Credit: A. Jechow/IGB

Light pollution does more than rob humans of the opportunity to ponder the night sky. Unnatural light can confuse or expose wildlife like insects, birds and sea turtles, with often fatal consequences.

Fortunately, can be controlled by shielding lights to limit shine to the immediate area, reducing lighting to the minimum amount needed—or by simply turning them off.

Explore further: First use of ISS astronaut pictures for light pollution studies

More information: The new world atlas of artificial night sky brightness, Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600377

Interactive map with data download instructions: cires.colorado.edu/artificial-sky

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28 comments

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Benni
1.3 / 5 (25) Jun 10, 2016
Please greenies, become advocates for eliminating the use of electricity for illumination.......and gkam you need to shut down that wind turbine & scrap any photovoltaics used for the purposes of illumination, you are cluttering up the sky & you seem not to even care?

Won't it just be so entertaining to see the followup posts.
Garrote
4.1 / 5 (28) Jun 10, 2016
It'd be far more entertaining to see a post up your followup you filthy beast of a troll!
AGreatWhopper
4.1 / 5 (22) Jun 10, 2016
Grassroots astronomy clubs that work with the issue need to hook up with those protecting bats. Definitely common interest there.

@FTH I'm thinking splinters. Lots of big splinters.

Let's see how loud the "identity by victimization status" troll screams at that.
arcmetal
5 / 5 (25) Jun 10, 2016
Adding lampshades to the street lights could go a long way to solve this problem. Shining all that extra light up into the sky is a bit of a waste. No one walks around up in the sky.
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (21) Jun 10, 2016
@FTH I'm thinking splinters. Lots of big splinters.

LMFAO. Looks like someone skipped their meds.
Talking to yourself again AGreatWanker.
xponen
5 / 5 (20) Jun 10, 2016
Adding lampshades to the street lights could go a long way to solve this problem. ....

Private individuals also contribute to light pollution, eg: billboard, spotlight... but judging from image captured by astronauts, the majority of light is indeed from street light.
Benni
1.4 / 5 (21) Jun 10, 2016
It'd be far more entertaining to see a post up your followup you filthy beast of a troll!


.......and the entertainment thus begins.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
4.9 / 5 (25) Jun 10, 2016
Benni,
Dark sky projects are actually catching on.

As someone who comes to this site because I actually know astronomy and enjoy it as a hobby, I could not be more thrilled.
That's right, I actually enjoy science.
Otto_Szucks
1.2 / 5 (19) Jun 11, 2016
Benni,
Dark sky projects are actually catching on.

- Steve C
The northeast corridor down to the mid Atlantic states and parts of florida in the US are not about to go dark for the sake of skywatchers. It's bad for business. It's also acting as a crime deterrent, having all those lights on.
"Shielding lights to limit shine" won't put a dent in the human ability to look up at the sky and see the Milky Way. Even a small amount of light ruins the effect of a star-filled sky. All it will do is to alleviate the reflection on flying insects and other wildlife who prowl at night and need darkness.
SamB
1.4 / 5 (21) Jun 11, 2016
It is estimated that 90% of the world's population have never seen the ocean and 99% have never seen snow!.. and most of these people also struggle to get clean drinking water every day. So, missing the Milky Way is probably not high on their list. They would probably rather have street lights to show the way home after a 12 hour shift at the clothing factory making your T-shirt.
jim_xanara
4 / 5 (25) Jun 11, 2016
40% of the posters on this site have never seen logic. Benni, ignoracle, isuckz...
Benni
1.4 / 5 (19) Jun 11, 2016
Benni,
Dark sky projects are actually catching on.

As someone who comes to this site because I actually know astronomy and enjoy it as a hobby, I could not be more thrilled.
That's right, I actually enjoy science.


Tell ya something Stevo, I do more than enjoy science, it's my profession as a Nuclear/Electrical Engineer whose hobby is also that of Astronomy & a member of an Astronomy Club whose membership includes similarly interested professionals.

I live where I live because I want to avoid subjecting my family to the congested logistics of the NorthEast & similarly congested & polluted corridors of the country. So if you want all the lights turned off in areas that would otherwise enhance criminal activity, that's your choice, but I've made a different choice to avoid subjecting my family to those kinds of environments, so I'm anything but impressed by your whiny criticisms.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
4.6 / 5 (21) Jun 11, 2016
Okay,
For being a member of an astronomy club, you don't have a clue what I was even talking about.
Www.wikipedia.org...preserve

Hint, it's not a massive liberal government program to change everyone's life and put your family in danger, Jesus man.
Benni
1.2 / 5 (18) Jun 11, 2016
Okay,
For being a member of an astronomy club, you don't have a clue what I was even talking about.
http://Www.wikipe...preserve

Hint, it's not a massive liberal government program to change everyone's life and put your family in danger, Jesus man.


Yet another whine from you as I would have expected to get. You don't like living where you can't see the Milky Way? Then move.

Captain Stumpy
4.6 / 5 (20) Jun 11, 2016
For being a member of an astronomy club, you don't have a clue what I was even talking about
@Steve 200mph Cruiz
it's not surprising
check out the b- comments here:

basic math & huge astronomy fails
http://phys.org/n...als.html

http://phys.org/n...ood.html]http://phys.org/n...ood.html[/url]

basic physics fails
http://phys.org/n...rse.html

doesn't know BH's or SR like claimed
http://phys.org/n...sts.html

http://phys.org/n...ial.html

plagiarized yahoo ask
http://phys.org/n...dio.html

can't do differential equations
http://phys.org/n...ate.html

http://phys.org/n...ood.html]http://phys.org/n...ood.html[/url]

so it's demonstrated with evidence in b's own words that either she is a chronic liar or obviously trolling
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (18) Jun 11, 2016
Benni,
I obviously live where i can see the stars, i told you I'm a hobbiest.

You didn't even look at the link i sent you, we aren't even talking about the same thing. Have a good day.
Otto_Szucks
1.3 / 5 (16) Jun 12, 2016
@Steverino
You didn't specify that you are able to see the stars unimpeded at your location. The topic refers to the inability of a large portion of humans to see the stars of the Milky Way due to "light pollution". If you wish to express your points in a manner that is clearcut and unobscured, try using a bit more specificity in expressing your points. I had also thought the same as Benni did, especially since there are many astronomy "hobbyists" who live in the northeastern part of the US who do have the light pollution problem, unless they happen to be in the White Mountains or on Mount Katahdin.

Have a good day.
ForFreeMinds
1.5 / 5 (16) Jun 12, 2016
On the other hand, billions of people can get around at night without carrying a flashlight and its safer with light illuminating evil doers. Really, what's more important? Safety at night or the ability to see the Milky Way?

Those who want less light pollution can buy street light lampshades and install them. And it probably wouldn't cost much to put them on new street lights as they are installed which I'd be willing to pay for as a taxpayer.
szore88
1.3 / 5 (16) Jun 12, 2016
We are 20 TRILLION dollars in debt, and this is what people are worried about? Unbelievable.......
Benni
1.2 / 5 (17) Jun 12, 2016
For being a member of an astronomy club, you don't have a clue what I was even talking about @Steve 200mph Cruiz
it's not surprising
check out the b- comments here:


Stumpo, no one clicks onto the links you put up, so why do you even bother? Maybe to make yourself feel like you're some kind of relevant computer expert every housewife in America is probably better at than you are.

Otto_Szucks
1 / 5 (15) Jun 12, 2016
For being a member of an astronomy club, you don't have a clue what I was even talking about @Steve 200mph Cruiz
it's not surprising
check out the b- comments here:


Stumpo, no one clicks onto the links you put up, so why do you even bother? Maybe to make yourself feel like you're some kind of relevant computer expert every housewife in America is probably better at than you are.

- Benni

That's all he ever does is to put up links and demand links so that he can "v-a-l-i-d-a-t-e" information that was contributed wrt to the topic, but most often not to Frumpy himself. But Frumpy ALWAYS makes it his own, and takes it personally as though it were a "personal affront" to him when someone offers their own knowledge TO the group and not directly at Frumpy. One has to wonder if CapnFrumpy awards "gold rings" to those whose knowledge is readily available on Google so that he can confirm what was known already by the contributor.
Frumpy obviously is mental.
Otto_Szucks
1 / 5 (15) Jun 12, 2016
@Benni
I visualize CapnFrumpy as "the murderous, scheming, floating fat man" in the movie, "Dune".
CapnFrumpy/Otto wants FULL control of all the posters in Physorg...what they say, what they do, their personal and business information, address, phone number, email, etc., and to dictate to them if and when they are allowed to talk or contribute their knowledge.
I advise everyone to use common sense and not give out your private, personal, and business information to this evil person, or else your full name will be bandied about in many threads, similar to gkam's fate.
clarkmagnuson
1.3 / 5 (15) Jun 13, 2016
North Korea is dark. I suggest sending some greenies there to find out how they do it.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (12) Jun 13, 2016
ericpelser
1 / 5 (5) Jun 14, 2016
Hey,
Here is a idea, stop fire of light in to the sky. No up lights, just, down lights. I would really like that can we do that. It is a simple demand, stop light going up at night.
ericpelser
1 / 5 (6) Jun 14, 2016
YES, DARK, we need this. It's a science experiment !
ChiefFartingDog
Jul 08, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antiantigoracle
Jul 08, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

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