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Earth Space

Help Map Global Light Pollution, By Starlight 148

Posted by timothy
from the can-you-see-below-the-belt? dept.
Kilrah_il writes "Light pollution is a big problem these days, affecting not only astronomers and wild life, but also everyone else because of wasted energy. GLOBE at Night aims to raise awareness by urging people to go outside and find out how much light pollution there is in their area. 'The campaign is easy and fun to do. First, you match the appearance of the constellation Orion in the first campaign (and Leo or Crux in the second campaign) with simple star maps of progressively fainter stars found. Then you submit your measurements, including the date, time, and location of your comparison. After all the campaign's observations are submitted, the project's organizers release a map of light-pollution levels worldwide.'"
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Help Map Global Light Pollution, By Starlight

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  • by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @11:32PM (#35582466)

    but also everyone else because of wasted energy.

    I use solar-powered security lights which turn on at night . This helps with safety and security, and the benefits far outweight the cost.

    The article is misleading, and referring to night-time illumination as "pollution" is derogatory and disingenuous. If you feel light except starlight is unwanted, then get a parcel of sufficient forested property, and don't cut down your trees, so you can take a walk far enough from civilization to see what you want.

    You chose to live in a population concentrated, civilized, area, so you have to deal with the fact that humans are active at night, or concerned about other humans active at night who might be up to no good, and need light to see, protect, and safely move about.

  • City time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @11:35PM (#35582486)

    >"find out how much light pollution there is in their area."

    Tons! But I live in a city and there isn't much I can do about it. Mostly poorly designed street lights. Then there are those neighbors that think their property is so much better with a megawatt of flood lights all over. Ug.

    But I would GLADLY put up with even more light pollution if it meant less NOISE pollution from damn modified motorcycles, leaf blowers, barking dogs, horns, sirens, and ESPECIALLY those "boom box cars" projecting their damn bass for 1/2 mile in all directions.

    I grew up in a wooded suburb with no streetlights... it was so quiet and dark and peaceful. The sky was so pretty and the air so quiet.... Oh the good 'ol days. Didn't know how important those things were until I lost them.

  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @11:56PM (#35582572) Journal

    Whether you like the fact that we have lots of artificial light at night or not, it's silly to refer to it as "pollution." For some people -- astronomers and those who have a serious desire to look up and see the stars -- it's a problem. For others, it's no more a problem than the smell of honeysuckle is pollution. Framing something you don't like as "pollution" is a dishonest way to get people to quickly agree with you about something without giving it serious thought, but it's not terribly useful for promoting honest discussion.

    You want honesty?

    When's the last time the smell of honeysuckle contributed to the demise of a species of animal?

    When's the last time the smell of honeysuckle prevented kids from knowing about the sky they live under? There are kids (and adults) who not only don't know the constellations, but their jaws drop open when they see a non-light-polluted sky for the first time.

    Why don't you just admit that you like the light, and don't like being told how to light the places you live and work?

    There's honesty for you.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:17AM (#35582708) Homepage Journal

    The problem isn't nighttime illumination.

    The problem is poorly designed nighttime illumination. Why are parking lot lights often aimed at a 30* angle, emitting much or most of their light skyward? Why are huge flood lights used to illuminate flags and signs, when a small spotlight would be more environmentally friendly and more efficient? Why are most street lamps still convex rather than concave or flat? Sure, even if nighttime lighting were properly designed as a general rule some light would be scattered by the atmosphere, and some would be reflected but if you ever visit a gated community with proper lighting you can see that traffic areas (walkways, streets, etc) are well lit and very safe, but the sky is still quite dark.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:25AM (#35582736)

    Isn't most important astronomy these days done by space-based telescopes?

    I'm not exactly an astronomer, more of an enthusiast, but I'd love to be able to buy a good telescope and use it to see brilliant galaxy and nebula images. I can't see shit in the sky around here in Northeast Ohio--and I about shat myself when I saw this image, taken with just a plain camera, with no fucking telescope:

    http://interfacelift.com/wallpaper/details/2376/the_milky_way_galaxy.html [interfacelift.com]

    It really pisses me off that I can't see this kind of clarity, far past Earth's atmosphere and into outer space. I'm lucky that I can see the very "brightest" stars in the sky and maybe a few of the bigger and brighter planets, like Jupiter and Saturn. It fucking sucks. I always thought it was "just that way" until I learned more about light pollution, and some of the from-ground images I've seen on the Internet (including the above) really made me aware of what I've been missing since... well, since I first time I ever looked at the sky.

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