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Updated: May 28, 2018

Light pollution is costing us the simple pleasure and romance of gazing at the Milky Way. A drive out of the city to a state park or a trip to visit a country relative are just about the only options for getting a view of that great beyond.

Really see the milky way again?

Solutions for light pollution are being sought out by communities throughout the world for both aesthetic and economic reasons. New lighting technologies are proving themselves more environmentally friendly and more economically agreeable than their predecessors. Commercial lighting providers are putting forth products that reduce the spillover of light where it’s not needed. Cleaner, brighter lights and dimming capabilities are reducing energy costs.

In the U.S., the cities of Boston, MA and Weston, FL are reducing light pollution while reaping the benefits of improved lighting, reduced energy costs, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The replacement of existing lighting with more-focused, brighter lighting has improved visibility while reducing spillover. Residents of Weston, FL have been pleased with the clean, uniform appearance the lighting gives the city.

Better lighting solutions in the works around the world

In Edmonton, city officials have begun replacing existing lighting with more efficient LED lighting in a number of neighborhoods. While initial purchase cost is more, the new fixtures will last longer, use up to 60% less electricity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. City officials plan to update all 98,000 streetlights, a process that will take years but will pay for itself in reduced costs.

In Uganda, an American company, Sol, Inc. is working with government officials to replace existing streetlights with solar powered lighting. Working from a renewable energy source, their product can help the people of Uganda shrink energy costs for street lighting and reduce dependence on hydro-electric power plants.

Improved lighting will reduce light pollution over time. Maybe sooner than we think we’ll see the milky way again from our own backyards.