Feeds

One fifth of humanity deprived of Milky Way

None more black light

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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". ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.