Feeds

One fifth of humanity deprived of Milky Way

None more black light

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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". ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.