Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Light Pollution & How to Avoid It

Lots of people have created interactive maps showing how the Earth looks from space at night. These maps are usually based on NASA's 'Black Marble' or 'Night Lights' satellite imagery. Are the stars out tonight? also uses NASA's imagery of the Earth at night, like many of these other global night pollution maps. However it goes much further than most light pollution maps by exploring the history of light pollution, its global impact and those areas of the world which are now being protected from light pollution.

As you progress through Are the stars out tonight? you learn about how the combined effect of the invention of the electric light-bulb and the urbanization of the world's population has led to global light pollution. You can see the global effect of this electrified urban population on NASA's night-time satellite imagery of the Earth.

The story map goes on to explore the different types of light pollution and the impact light pollution has on astronomers and on animal and plant life as well. Most animals and plants can't escape human light pollution. Ironically many humans can. Scientists around the world are pushing for 'Dark Sky' initiatives, to establish and protect areas unaffected by light pollution. Are the stars out tonight? goes on to map dark-sky designated areas in North America, South America and Europe.

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