Feeds

One fifth of humanity deprived of Milky Way

None more black light

Intelligent flash storage arrays

One-fifth of the world's population is deprived of the pleasure of viewing the Milky Way in all its splendour - thanks, you guessed it, to light pollution.

However, this for once is not a case of developing world citizens yet again being sold short, because the light-out specifically affects "two thirds of the US population and one half of the European Union population", with Blighty figuring large among the total 20 per cent worldwide who are sine Via Lactea.

That's according to Connie Walker, an astronomer from the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, who used figures from various sources including the public-participation Globe at Night project to arrive at her conclusion.

She lamented: "The arc of the Milky Way seen from a truly dark location is part of our planet's natural heritage."

To give an idea of the scale of the problem, Walker specifically found that "cities using light fixtures that direct just 3 per cent of their light upwards can almost double the sky glow experienced by astronomical observatories 100 km away".

She elaborated: "Allowing 10 per cent direct uplight increases this figure to 570 per cent."

Walker is chair of the US Dark Skies Working Group, part of the Dark Skies Awareness program, described by Cosmos Online as "a global citizen science effort to raise awareness of light pollution".

She said: "The point of raising awareness of light pollution is that it touches many areas of people's lives, from simply not being able to see the natural heritage of a starry night sky to affecting... the habits of animals, energy consumption, economic resources, and astronomical research."

In case you're thinking that light pollution is nothing more than an inconvenience for astronomers and city-bound skygazers, Walker cited a 2008 study of 147 Israeli communities, published in journal Chronobiology International, which "found some evidence for an increased risk of breast cancer for women living in areas with the most light pollution".

This was believed to be linked to "unnatural light at night affecting levels of hormones such as melatonin and estrogen". ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.