In another international look at sky glow issues, an article in the Western Mail of the UK, highlights the problem of light pollution overseas.
In an effort to build public awareness of the experience of light pollution throughout the country, the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies worked with amateur stargazers to count the number of stars they could see. Each participant in the study was asked to count how many of the 50 stars normally visible to the naked eye in the Orion constellation they were able to view.
The results? Of the 2,000 people taking part, 54 percent saw fewer than 20 percent of the stars, with only 2 percent of participants able to see 30 or more stars. Not surprisingly, those in rural areas were able to see the most.
The organizers of the study were not shocked at the results, knowing that sky glow continues to pull the curtain across night skies, obscuring the view for stargazers of all types. So while it’s good to confirm their suspicious, it’s a sobering reality.
I like how one African, living in Wales, summed it up; "I grew up in East Africa with a firmament of stars over my head – they were the roof to my world. Once a year, I go to rural Wales, wait for a clear night and then lie looking up at the stars. I don’t go until I have seen a shooting star. It’s as if I have to put the roof back on to my world."
Future star counts will likely reveal the slow creep of light pollution as cities expand outward, but hopefully, as educational efforts like this one continue, people will begin to take notice and make an effort to slow the change.