Report finds artificial light hides much of night sky from humanity

World Today

Report finds artificial light hides much of night sky from humanity

A new report claims our home galaxy is now hidden from more than one-third of humanity. It is part of a new, just-released Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness, a phenomenon that’s more widespread than ever.

CCTV America’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.

Report finds artificial light hides much of night sky from humanity

Report finds artificial light hides much of night sky from humanity

A new world atlas of artificial night sky brightness confirms the extent to which lights on earth now block out stars. CCTV America's Hendrik Sybrandy reports
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Astronomy is a science that’s weather dependent. Thunderstorms, or merely clouds, can turn star-gazing into a fruitless exercise.

A rainy night at the Chamberlin Observatory in Denver can turn the focus on the cosmos indoors. Yet there’s a much bigger problem confronting astronomers these days: light pollution.

A new World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness confirms the extent to which lights on earth now block out stars.

Chris Elvidge with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helped develop the atlas. Sensors on satellites took nightly measurements of light, mostly electric, as it escaped from the earth.

Natural gas flares and fishing boats emit lots of light as well.

Light pollution is most intense in Singapore. It’s also very glaring in several countries in the Persian Gulf. It’s much less of an issue in much of Africa.

The International Dark Sky Association’s John Barentine said research shows artificial light can harm plants and animals which depend on earth’s daily cycle of light and dark, and can affect human health too.

But many are saying it’s our once-common experience of being able to take in a star-filled sky that’s most at risk.

On the brighter side, some changes are coming. Shielded lights help reduce brightness. Barentine’s group has identified 14 world communities that have worked to preserve their night skies. Light, he points out, may be the only form of pollution that disappears from the environment as soon as you dim it.