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Artificial light blocking star vision has doubled in less than 10 years

Incidents of light pollution are on the rise all over the world. | Font: Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

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Observations by citizens around the world over the past 12 years have confirmed a disturbing trend: the stars are getting harder to see because there are more and more of them. artificial light at night, much more than we thought.

According to a macro study on light pollution published in The sciencebetween 2011 and 2022, the brightness of the sky increased by 9.6% on average per year, twice as much as at the beginning of the study and much higher than was measured by satellites.

To put this into perspective, the study explains that light pollution is such that a child born in an area where there were 250 stars I would probably see less than 100 stars in the same place 18 years later.

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For many years, in many places on Earth, the night sky has not darkened completely, because this is prevented by artificial twilight caused by anthropogenic light scattering in the atmosphere.

This type light pollution, by the name “sky glow”, not only prevents us from seeing starsIt also has a disturbing impact on the environment.

However, it is difficult to accurately calculate how and how much artificial lightmainly because the satellites do not detect the blue emission of LED lamps, which has been forced on all types of lighting in recent years, especially street lighting.

In addition, satellites are sensitive to light directed towards the sky, but they also do not pick up light emitted horizontally, such as advertising and facade lighting, which are most conducive to “sky glow”.

To find out to what extent pollution luminous blocking the view starsChristopher Kiba of the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) and Ruhr University Bochum, together with scientists from the Optical Astronomy Research Center NOIRlab (USA), analyzed 51,351 observations made by citizens between 2011 and 2022.

As a great example of citizen science, Kiba and his team asked volunteers from all over the world to take part in the Globe at Night project, in which they had to compare star maps of the night sky with what light pollution it allowed them to really see.

“Together, the contributions of all these people functioned as a global network of sensors,” emphasizes Christopher Kiba.

The initiative received data from 19,262 locations worldwide, including 3,699 locations in Europe and 9,488 locations in North America.

According to the results, the brightness of the night sky caused by artificial light it grew by 7-10% per year (equivalent to doubling the amount of light in about a decade).

However, according to measurements made by satellites, the radiation artificial light It grew by only 2% per year.

It doesn’t just affect people.

This “celestial glow”, the authors note, has serious implications not only for observing stars but also for the environment, since many physiological processes of living beings are determined by daily and seasonal cycles and, therefore, are influenced by light.

” ‘sky glow’ impacts both diurnal and nocturnal animals and, in addition, destroys an important part of our cultural heritage”, while having a “negative impact on the observation of stars and astronomy,” said Constance Walker, co-author of the study and project lead for Globe al Night at NOIRlab.

From a close perspective, Fabio Falci of the Institute of Science and Technology on Light Pollution (ISTIL) and Salvador Bara, professor of optics at the Spanish University of Santiago de Compostela, believe that “the most important message that the scientific community should take away from the study is that what pollution luminous is increasing despite the measures allegedly taken to limit it.”

“Awareness still needs to be raised significantly in order to artificial light night is perceived not as something positive, but rather as a pollutant, which it really is,” both experts conclude. EFE

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Source: RPP

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