The Milky Way is invisible to
more than one third of humanity, including 60 percent of Europeans
and nearly 80 percent of North Americans, a new world atlas of
light pollution suggested Friday.
“Light pollution is no longer only a matter for professional
astronomers,” researchers from Italy, Germany, the U.S. and Israel,
wrote in a paper in the U.S. journal Science Advances.
The problem “represents a profound alteration of a fundamental
human experience – the opportunity for each person to view and
ponder the night sky,” said the study.
The new atlas, based on high-resolution satellite data and
precision sky brightness measurements, documented a world that is
in many places awash with light.
The most light-polluted country is Singapore, where the entire
population never experiences conditions resembling true night, it
In Western Europe, only small areas of night sky remain
relatively undiminished, mainly in Scotland, Sweden, Norway, and
parts of Spain and Austria.
On the other hand, countries with populations least affected by
light pollution are Chad, the Central African Republic, and
Madagascar, with more than three quarters of their people living
under pristine, ink-black night sky conditions.
The researchers specifically examined the G20 countries, finding
that in terms of area, Italy and South Korea are the most polluted,
and Canada and Australia the least.
Residents of India and Germany are most likely to be able to see
the Milky Way from their home, while those in Saudi Arabia and
South Korea are least likely.
In addition, almost half of the U.S. experiences light-polluted
nights, despite the vast open spaces of the American west.
Overall, more than 80 percent of people on Earth live under
Light pollution does more than rob humans of the opportunity to
ponder the night sky.
Unnatural light can confuse or expose wildlife like insects,
birds and sea turtles, with often fatal consequences, according to
“I hope that this atlas will finally open the eyes of people to
light pollution,” lead author Fabio Falchi from the Light Pollution
Science and Technology Institute said in a statement. Enditem