Once upon a time the nightly appearance of the star-filled sky was a part of our shared human experience. The stars inspired art, science, religion, and more. With the rise of cities and electric lighting the glow of civilization has been slowly removing the stars from our hearts and minds.
This artificial brightening of the night sky is called light pollution. Because of it two thirds of the population can no longer see our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The glow of the cities is so bright that even when viewed from space, city light far outshines starlight.
ANALYSIS: Light Pollution: Time to Turn On the Night?
The glow that now pervades the night has done more than remove the stars from the sky. It wastes energy and dollars; harms wildlife; and can cause long-term health problems.
International Dark Sky Week (IDSW) is currently underway (April 5-11). It was created to help draw attention to the widespread problems of light pollution and to the relatively simple solutions that can help to solve them. IDSW, which takes place during Global Astronomy Month, focuses not only on getting people back under the stars to see and appreciate the night sky, but also getting them to take action.