Latest in Culture

Image credit:

A third of the world can no longer see the Milky Way

Thanks to light pollution, one in three of us can’t see the galaxy anymore.
Cherlynn Low, @cherlynnlow
June 10, 2016
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

If you never thought light pollution was a problem before, think again. New research claims that more than a third of humanity cannot see the Milky Way anymore, because artificial lights have made the night sky too bright to view the galaxy.

The study, called "The new world atlas of artificial night sky brightness." claims that 60 percent of Europeans and almost 80 percent of North Americans can't see the collection of stars and planets anymore. The planet has, according to the paper, been hidden behind a "luminous fog that prevents most of Earth's population from having the opportunity to observe our galaxy."

Singapore was deemed the most light-polluted country, and I am not surprised that my incredibly well-lit home country ranks so highly. San Marino, Kuwait, Qatar and Malta join Singapore on the list of places where people can't see the Milky Way at all.

According to the researchers, light pollution causes myriad problems, from wasting money and energy, to a loss of biodiversity and culture. These problems can be "instantly mitigated (by turning off lights)," they say. This seems like a no-brainer, but the team is also proposing several bigger changes.

In addition to recommending people use the minimum amount of light for their tasks and strongly limiting blue light that interferes with circadian rhythms, the paper suggests installing shielding to prevent light from being sent at or above the horizon level.

If you live in one of the light-polluted regions and still want to see the Milky Way, consider trekking out to Chad, the Central African Republic or Madagascar, which the study says are the least affected. Or, if you don't want to leave your desk, check out this giant zoomable image of the galaxy. You won't have to turn off your lights.

[Image: Amr Dalsh / Reuters]

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

NASA will fund six more Artemis missions as it plans return to the moon

NASA will fund six more Artemis missions as it plans return to the moon

View
Amazon has eliminated single-use plastic at its Indian fulfilment centers

Amazon has eliminated single-use plastic at its Indian fulfilment centers

View
Google reveals its new Nest smart speaker

Google reveals its new Nest smart speaker

View
iFixit takes the Oura smart ring apart to see how it works

iFixit takes the Oura smart ring apart to see how it works

View
CommStar will launch a relay satellite to talk to astronauts on the Moon

CommStar will launch a relay satellite to talk to astronauts on the Moon

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr