Kids Watching the Galaxy

Image from NASA Student Feature section

Only someone born in the 1950s or earlier can talk about having seen the Milky Way from a suburb of Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what Barry Weaver, writing for the Lompoc Record recently remembers(Lompoc is a city in Santa Barbara County, California).

He also reminisces about teaching children about astronomy using a portable planetarium holding 25 students at a time. The children loved it and no wonder. The great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov observed that astronomy was our first science being that earliest humans, no matter where they lived, looked up at a spectacular night sky their entire lives, eventually recording events and creating the science of astronomy.

Sadly we are no longer able to see the Milky Way. In my lifetime (I was born in the early 1950s), I have only seen it about 5 times. Today’s children may never ever see it at all. Thankfully, with growing awareness about light pollution and the creation of dark sky parks, those who wish to might get a chance to really see the stars up in the sky.

But what a shame, that we need to make such an effort to see the stars. They are not available to us as they were to our ancestors.

Our modern times requires nighttime lighting, however we can do a much better job of focusing the light where it’s needed and we can also do a much better job with using less energy. We have the means to do that now with dark sky compliant lighting and energy efficient light bulbs.

Barry Weaver wrote the article I’m referring to to promote the film “City Dark” which I posted about last week. I am looking forward to seeing it myself in a couple of weeks in Seattle.

The more we’re educated about our environment the better equipped we are to co-exist respectfully and joyously.