Milky Way Hidden From A Third Of Human Population And 80% Americans

First Posted: Jun 13, 2016 05:30 AM EDT

The Milky Way can't be viewed clearly at night by nearly 80% of Americans as well as one-third of our planet's total population due to light pollution. The estimates were reported by a recently released global atlas and study.

According to the study, 99% of the population in America lives beneath light polluted skies. Furthermore, certain areas in the US may not experience the stellar beauty of the night again, due to the effect of the omnipresent electric light. The artificial glow effect can linger on for hundreds of miles, indicating that it partially obscures or blocks galaxies, constellations and stars from our view; as a result inhabitants of large urban areas cannot experience the joys of star gazing.

"In our urban centers, you've got multiple generations of people that could not go out and see the Milky Way, and it's a shame that they can't," said Chris Elvidge, co-author of the study and researcher at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Center for Environmental Information. It is only in some places, such as areas near the Death Valley National Park, where the sources of artificial light are few that one can gaze up to see a starry night.

To conduct the most in depth worldwide assessment of light pollution, scientists took the help of low light images from a NASA/NOAA satellite and combined it with information gathered from more than 30,000 sky brightness monitors to analyze the light pollution levels in a 120 miles radius. Spain, Canada, South Korea, Kuwait and Singapore were some of the other countries found with the worst cases of light pollution on our planet. In the US itself, the East Coast has a more obscured sky at night.

As per reports, the researching team wants to raise awareness with the atlas and study about the adverse effects of light pollution and its harm on the environment, an occurrence that people don't take seriously. Today, light pollution can have many ecological impacts like altering the migratory pattern of birds to disrupting the natural behaviors of nocturnal animals. The circadian rhythms of humans are also disturbed by light pollution, which consequently can have health implications like obesity, depression and even a rise for the risk of cancer.

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