The Milky Way: Invisible to most of us, but accessible to all! (Synopsis)

"In order for the light to shine so brightly the darkness must be present." -Francis Bacon

Recently, a team of international researchers has assembled the most comprehensive, up to date study on light pollution on Earth ever, including a full-Earth map of dark sky conditions or lack thereof. Its findings were disheartening but unsurprising, including the fact that 80% of Americans and 60% of Europeans cannot see the Milky Way.

The night sky from a rural (top) vs. urban (bottom) location. These are not extreme examples of pristine skies or of heavily polluted skies. Image credit: flickr user Jeremy Stanley, under a c.c.a.-2.0 generic license. The night sky from a rural (top) vs. urban (bottom) location. These are not extreme examples of pristine skies or of heavily polluted skies. Image credit: flickr user Jeremy Stanley, under a c.c.a.-2.0 generic license.

Although this may have detrimental effects to plants and animals, the largest negative may be humanity's disconnect from the night sky, and the Universe beyond our world as a result. If you're interested, it's not difficult to find a dark sky location within two hours of your location, pretty much independent of where you are.

Image credit: Google Earth with Light Pollution Overlay, created by E. Siegel. Image credit: Google Earth with Light Pollution Overlay, created by E. Siegel.

Go get the full story on our (lack of) dark skies and how to actually find them!

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Light pollution and clouds that roll in from the coast make night sky viewing impossible, but we have an active and well run astronomy community. The jewel is the Tierra Del Sol Dark-Sky Observing Site in the desert just east of us. There’s plenty of parking, concrete pads with power where 20-30 members can set up their own telescopes, and combination structure housing a 22-inch reflector telescope and warming room.

Star parties are a good time, but stay out of the warming room. It is tempting because the desert gets cold, and especially if you’re bringing a date who gets cold easily.

I learned this the hard way as my date was cold and we ventured in. We sat on the nice comfy couches in the room so dimly lit with red light that you could barely see. I smoothly preformed the stretch move to put my arm around the girl with complete success. All was going great until in the almost completely dark room a giant rat ran across the back of the couch, along my arm and the girl’s neck and shoulders. It took us a few seconds to process what had just happened at which time our eyes adjusted enough to the low light to take a good inventory of our surroundings. There were rats everywhere in the room. On every chair. Every shelf. Every table. All over the floor.

It turns out that rats think the desert is cold at night too.

There is a dark park in Michigan as well, just outside of Mackinaw City. It's very nice, but a bit of a sad reminder that what could once be seen from many rural back yards (the farm where I grew up, for example) and other locales is now not nearly as easy to find.

“…the largest negative may be humanity’s disconnect from the night sky, and the Universe beyond our world as a result.”

What is the negative effect for humanity?
................
“A great many of us feel a connection with the Universe beyond our world, and light pollution literally takes half of our experience — the “up” half — away from us…”

Would you describe your “connection” for us?
......................
“Take a trip to a dark sky location this summer on a moonless night and just look up, just for a little while. It might change your whole outlook on life.”

Would you describe how looking up at the dark sky has changed your outlook on life?

P.S.
It’s interesting that the people whom liberals, generally-speaking, look down on (i.e. People living far out in rural America, and the pre-electricity people living centuries or millennia ago - both of whom tended to be much more religious than people today) are those who enjoyed the clearest, truest view of the dark night sky.

By See Noevo (not verified) on 14 Jun 2016 #permalink

What is the negative effect for humanity?

The inability to witness a magnificent example of G-d's creation?

Just thinking out loud.

It’s interesting that the people whom liberals, generally-speaking, look down on (i.e. People living far out in rural America, and the pre-electricity people living centuries or millennia ago – both of whom tended to be much more religious than people today)

This is also a fascinating example of both the use of id est and the elevation of animism.

I'd forgotten you make your make up blatant lies about liberals sn, you've been so busy misrepresenting science. The one here is an odd one for you though: given people who live in rural areas are often poor, and you dismiss the poor as "being poor because they deserve to be," your attempted defense of them is hollow even for you.

The one here is an odd one for you though: given people who live in rural areas are often poor, and you dismiss the poor as “being poor because they deserve to be,” your attempted defense of them is hollow even for you.

The only Good Darwinism is Social Darwinism. Must be in the Summa somewhere. Or Breitbump, whatever.

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