Light pollution isn’t just a North American problem. Seems that big cities in India are also grappling with this growing issue. According to an article in The Times of India, Delhi stargazers are struggling to find a way to see the bright lights in the sky. And in fact, experts from the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute who’ve studied NASA satellite maps explain that light pollution in India is no less than that experienced by residents in North American or European cities.
The problems are all too familiar. People in urban centers, eager to gaze on heavenly constellations, peer up and are only able to see a handful of the stars that would otherwise be visible to them if the skies were dark. Many who have lived in the same area all of their lives are complaining that the stars of their childhood are now hidden from view. As the rule goes, the greater the amount of light in a given area, the fewer stars people are able to see.
And like those of us here who are on the lookout for good starry skies, people in India are traveling out of town to get the view they’re after. Interestingly, the problems there are a little different. When people drive out of town, they have to worry about safety. And because the areas with ink black skies are a ways away, they have to consider overnight lodging, too. A challenge when you’re talking about undeveloped deserts and countryside.
Although few, if any, studies have been conducted in India to quantify the extent and effects of light pollution, in anticipation of the International Year of Astronomy in 2009, amateur astronomers and schoolchildren alike are being called upon to begin recording star visibility throughout the country. Should be interesting to see how India and other developing countries handle the issue of light pollution in the years ahead.