Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. Iโ€™m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything weโ€™ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
January 24, 2012

Why the Night Sky Matters: The Ramifications of Light Pollution

By Mark Sisson
150 Comments

Carrie and I are lucky enough to have a hot tub in our back yard, overlooking a pretty spectacular ocean and mountain view. We often soak for a while and talk about the day’s activities just before retiring to bed (I sometimes alternate with a quick plunge or two into our unheated pool). Last night we were taking advantage of the break between winter storms to “jacuze” when I noticed that the cloud cover had so dispersed the city lights of L.A. and Santa Monica that it lit up the sky even 20 miles out into Malibu. On an otherwise moonless night, it had become light enough to simulate dusk all over L.A.. Can you imagine the amount of manmade light it takes to have that effect? Of course, that got me thinking about all the ways in which light permeates our lives in ways both good and bad.

These days, mentioning the words “pollution” or “environment” raises hackles in some, perhaps most people. Political blinders go up, knee-jerk responses engage. Support for classically green renewables like wind or solar power usually comes with unequivocal and emotional disdain for any and all variations of nuclear. On the same token, those who question the legitimacy of anthropogenic global warming often display a lack of concern for the effects of fracking, industrial pollution, or rampant use of agricultural pesticides. Now, I’m not wading into that morass, mind you. This isn’t the place for that. I am, however, calling to attention the fact that both (albeit amorphous, roughly defined) groups have a major blind spot: light pollution. And it’s not that they reject it as a problem. It’s that they are simply unaware it even exists (maybe it’s all the bright lights).

So what exactly is light pollution?

Well, it’s not light as in mild, harmless, or barely-there. It’s not gentle pollution, and it’s nothing like “light to moderate drinking.” Light pollution is characterized by excessive amounts of artificial light. Light that shouldn’t be there, light that you can’t escape from. It’s light that fills city streets at night – all night – and extends upward to obscure our view of the stars. It’s the blinding white and blue light streaming from big screen TVs, laptops, and lamps, and it’s the little niggling lights that pepper the interiors of our homes, winking at us from Blu-ray players and gaming consoles and clock radios even as we (try to) sleep.

In other words, light pollution exists inside and outside our homes. It affects both the environment at large and the individual inhabitants within. It is micro and macro. In the modern world it is, for the most part, inescapable.

I won’t delve too deeply into the negative effects of artificial light on human health as it relates to circadian rhythm, because I’ve already covered those. Quickly, though, some of the research:

Night time exposure to blue (artificial) light can suppress melatonin production, thereby disrupting sleep, reducing quality of sleep, throwing off circadian rhythm, and even promoting certain cancers.

Computer light exposure at night affects circadian rhythm and cognitive performance.

Continuous light exposure might hamper our ability to process carbohydrates, particularly in the liver.

According to a large review titled “The Dark Side of Light at Night,” (PDF) shift workers (a proxy for night time light exposure) get more cancer, heart disease, and are more likely to be obese. They also experience great oxidative stress loads and have compromised immune systems. Shift workers might represent the extreme end of nighttime light exposure, but they show the potential negative ramifications of even constant low-level exposure for everyone else.

But besides all the measurable, objective, physiologically-harmful effects of too much artificial light, there are the intangibles. That’s what this post is really about. Who else was lucky enough to spend their childhood summer nights on the roof or in the open field, gazing up at the millions of stars set against the backdrop of eternity? I was, and it’s what I still look forward to most of all about camping. When I sneak away from the fire and catch a break in the canopy, I stop and stare up above at the stars, those same heavenly mysteries that got our ancestors thinking, poking, prodding, and striving for more. Though today I know that they represent far flung galaxies of eons past and that that bluish “star” is actually Venus, a planet covered by volcanoes and rocky deserts – while thirty thousand years ago mankind looked up and concocted wondrous tales of gods and celestial beasts – that knowledge is suddenly meaningless once I begin to gaze. I’m caught up, emotional, dare-I-say “spiritual” – a lot like how our ancestors must have felt when they looked up at night. I’m lost in the limitlessness. I’m a kid again, suddenly struck with the realization of just how small I am and of the extrinsic meaninglessness of it all. Nature, remember, is neutral, and it becomes evident that we create our own meaning – it’s actually intrinsic, it comes from within – and set our own path. It’s all on us, and I’m reminded of this essential fact because of that brief brilliant moment with the stars.

If we allow light pollution to progress unabated, we lose that relationship. Many of us have, for all intents and purposes, already lost it – if we ever had it at all. But at least the opportunity remains. I mean, the stars are still there, if you get the heck out of Dodge. And if you can drag your kid outside city limits to shift his gaze from smart phone upward toward the relatively untouched sky, he might learn something about what it means to be human. Strip away all the luxuries and technology and just stick a modern city dweller in an open meadow in the middle of nowhere in the black of night and direct his or her attention skyward. If only for a moment, he’ll be like Luke Skywalker staring out at the night sky in “A New Hope” (with fewer suns) and thinking of rebel fleets and hyperspace travel.

That brings me to my final beef with light pollution: the extinguishing of a potent source of inspiration for greatness. From the ancients using astronomy to align their superstructures, to Newton drawing on the movement of celestial bodies to formulate basic theories of physics, to poets and authors and other artists (“Starry Night,” anyone?) creating work after a night spent stargazing, we do and have done great things with regular access to unfiltered night skies. I tend to think we have a lot ahead of us, too, if we’d give ourselves the chance. Misappropriation or lack of funding is the oft-cited cause of the US space program’s sorry state, but I feel like a lack of public fervor for all things stellar is at the root of it. People just don’t – or can’t – look up and marvel at the amazing ocular feast residing above anymore, and so they don’t dream of visiting it. Public officials don’t feel pressured to support it (besides, there are far more lucrative things to be doing with our tax money, like subsidizing their friends). Kids don’t seem to dream about becoming astronauts. I dunno about you, but that’s sad to me. The childhood version of Mark Sisson figured there’d be interstellar commercial travel and permanent bases on Mars by 2012. Adult version of Mark Sisson is highly disappointed that there is neither (but he hasn’t quite lost hope).

But we can’t go out and bust street lights with slingshots; we’re not extreme Luddite/Dennis the Menace hybrids. We can, however, make changes to the immediate environment. Our homes and our habits can change. So, if there’s an action item to be derived from this post, I guess it’s this: turn off the lights, go outside, preferably somewhere remote, look up, and take it all in. Take your kids with you. Foster the innate human obsession with the stars. Watch young eyes light up and mind-expanding thoughts of eternity and possibility germinate in growing brains. Then, set them loose and see where they go and what they do. I bet it’ll be pretty good.

Who else loves – nay, needs – the stars? Who else imagines how great things would be if we could actually step outside our living quarters, look up, and see the galaxies laid out before us in excruciating detail? Who else wishes that stargazing was no longer the strict province of campers and hunters and country-living? I realize that progress is inevitable and civilization butts heads with nature, but there’s got to be a better way.

Right?

Chime in the comment section. Let everyone hear about your love for the stars. And if your relationship with the cosmos has grown stale (or you’re a stargazing virgin), then get out and see them (so you know what we’re all blabbering about)!

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

142 Comments on "Why the Night Sky Matters: The Ramifications of Light Pollution"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Maureen
Maureen
4 years 10 months ago

Ah Mark, you have the ability to read my mind. Just signed a lease for a home about thirty minutes away from my work because I was tired of not seeing the stars. City life (and that train that goes by my house at five am with the horn blaring) is not for me.

Tenaya
4 years 10 months ago

A year and-a-half ago I moved to a more rural area of Marin County, CA and am astounded and awed by the night sky~ The Milky Way is visible on a clear night and I love watching the stars appear. I love how dark it is and quiet too. Feeling very lucky. ๐Ÿ™‚ Great post!

Becca
4 years 10 months ago

Jealous! I live in a very light-polluted city while I attend school… it will be a while til’ I can escape it

Michael
Michael
4 years 10 months ago

I too am in the process of buying a house outside of the city so that I can see the stars. I have spent the last year in a Condo downtown with street lamps outside my window and neighbors yelling all manner of things at all times in the night. It’s not worth the money I save.

Brent
Brent
4 years 10 months ago
Think outside the box Becky. Surely there’s somewhere away from the light(further out)you could live. I left the city lights for a tiny community without street lights outside the city where I attended college. What a relief. I grew up in a very small town that was, in my view, destroyed when street lights went in. I was lucky and lived right on the very edge and corner so I regularly chunked a rock into the street light in front of our house. Since the whole family and neighbors like to sit outside at night, I think everyone was secretly… Read more »
rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

Yeah, isn’t it interesting how Mark posts on seemingly ‘random’ topics that happen to be timely for other people here (me, included) in personal ways. Well, it really is true that we are all connected, IMO.

Dolina
Dolina
4 years 10 months ago

Please Everybody! Don’t just accept the loss of the stars. Become activists for better lighting in your community. Insist on ordinances that require well-designed lights. If you are lucky enough to live in a dark sky area, help get legislation passed to protect what you have. See the International Dark Sky Association – http://www.darksky.org – to learn how.

rab
rab
4 years 10 months ago

A nice way to end day 16 of going primal.
Just read the Daily after coming in from the tub.
The beautiful “starscapes” of Southwestern Colorado obscured by winter clouds suspended above my head; snow teasing, but holding back.

Back inside now to candles, low light and a fire.
Fully present in the moment.
A timely post, as many are.

shazkar
shazkar
4 years 10 months ago

Man, seeing the stars from the middle of the ocean, or the middle of the mountains/nowhere is something special. It’s a shame that we can’t see that all the time.

Abel James
4 years 10 months ago

Well said. I grew up in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire and the first thing I notice when I get back is the smell of fresh air. You actually NOTICE how good the air smells. And while they’re usually smothered out and ignored in the city, you can’t help but be affected by the incredible depth and sheer vastness the stars. We should all ditch the city more often.

Janet
Janet
4 years 10 months ago
One of the nicest memories I have of my dad is standing out in the barnyard one night at our farm in Central Illinois nearly 50 years ago and the Milky Way blazed above us. He explained just how far that was from us and gave me some idea of just how awesomely big it was and WE were part of it. Farmers have a closer relationship to the night. He would stand in the field sometimes and just listen to the corn leaves rustle and spring always thrilled him when bits of green shot out of the ground. I… Read more »
Tenaya
4 years 10 months ago

A beautiful memory of your dad~ Brought a tear to my eye~

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
4 years 10 months ago

Janet, what a beautiful remembrance!

Primal Toad
4 years 10 months ago

That’s awesome. Beautiful. Something I want. Need?

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

I agree, that is beautiful!

One of my own special star gazing memories also involves my father – nearly 60 years ago when the city skies were not so light polluted. My very first memory is of being held in my father’s arms while he showed me the night sky. While he did talk to me, I don’t know that I understood all of his words – or more to the point that I even needed to.

David
David
4 years 10 months ago

Janet, that was a wonderful story. My father took me out on our roof in 1959 and we looked at the constellations with a book and a flashlight. It was winter and we lived away from town so we could see everything.

Thank you for reminding me of it!

I miss him like you miss your dad………..

Duncan
Duncan
4 years 10 months ago

City people (like me) need to see the stars, if for no other reason than as a reminder that we are not really that important.

I was able to see the stars in all their glory from an isolated beach in Central America recently, complete with shooting stars. I felt wonderfully small.

M. M.
M. M.
4 years 10 months ago

Oh, this post resonated with me, and made me a bit sad, mostly because I can barely remember the last time I saw more than the brightest stars in the sky, and I suspect that some of those are satellites. Most definitely, there has got to be a better way.

Steffy
Steffy
4 years 10 months ago

I love gazing up at the night sky. Makes you really wonder what else is out there. Are there more planets like Earth? If so, are they inhabited by humans, or human-like creatures, or something completely different? Do they suffer the ramifications of light pollution too?

I was extremely grateful when we moved out of the big city, and into a small town. Now every night when I take my dog outside, I can see the beautiful stars, proving there’s no cloud cover! I really do wish there were less light pollution from the city lights!

justyouraveragecavemen
justyouraveragecavemen
4 years 10 months ago

Great post, Mark. My wife and I should begin construction of our new “out in the country” home this fall. I can’t wait to get away from the 4 lane highway in my front yard so we can slow down our lives, get a dog (finally), and a telescope so my sons and I can explore this beautiful universe.

Josh
Josh
4 years 10 months ago

For a while now I’ve had this grand fantasy that somehow my city would be able to get everyone to shut off all the lights at the same time, and in that moment, it would switch on the lights in the sky. How grand and epic that would be.

Abby J. (formerly C.)
Abby J. (formerly C.)
4 years 10 months ago
I grew up in the country so I spent alot of time staring at the stars. I still try to get out in August to see the Perseid meteor showers, flat on my back in the middle of a grassy field somewhere. It usually occurs close to my birthday, so it’s the perfect birthday treat! I know, too, that city light definitely affects my sleep. I wish I could use blackout curtains at night, but then the lack of access to the sunrise totally screws up my ability to get out of bed. I wake up groggy and utterly disoriented.… Read more »
Kelly
Kelly
4 years 10 months ago

Get a sunrise simulator (aka dawn simulator) alarm clock. And not a super cheap one…They essentially simulate sunrise by gradually turning a light on over about 30 minutes. It does not need to be more than about 60W to give you the desired effect. You will wake up easily and more naturally.

Janet
Janet
4 years 10 months ago

There are lamps that gradually turn light on in the am, plus timers that will do the same thing. There is even an alarm clock that has that kind of wake up light in it. I bought a little timer thingy that plugs into a regular light and then into an outlet and the regular lightbulb gradually goes on in AM. You set it for a certain time back from when you want to get up. I rarely need an alarm. I will try and get back with the brand, as I am not at home.

Penady
Penady
4 years 10 months ago
I grew up in the rural Midwest. At night I could go out and see a billion stars shining down on me. Sometimes I would lay down in the grass and feel the coolness of the grass and the warmth of the wind as I stared up at the stars. Sometimes I could swear I was so in tune with the earth that I could feel its rotation. Now that I live in the city, I don’t see them anymore. On a good night I might be able to pick out five or six stars. It’s not the same. Oh,… Read more »
rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

I spent several of my childhood years in the Midwest and share your experiences. Also, I miss the small flying, twinkling, “stars” – the fireflies – that were so abundant then but not so much these days.

Janet
Janet
4 years 10 months ago

So true about the lightening bugs. I still live in a rural area and I watch for the first night there are light’nin bugs in the summer. Same with the peeper frogs where I walk in the spring. Luckily, I can get out into the country easily, but the Chicago/Milwaukee lights cause some light pollution.

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

You know, even being old enough to remember times when we had abundant lightening bugs, peeper frogs, butterflies, and so on – their absence has still somehow almost normalized for me. THAT makes me almost as sad as their decline.

I’m re-landscaping my home in the city – SE Michigan – and even though the city has had recent butterfly releases and I have planted many butterfly attracting plants, I have yet to see more than a very few and only of one species.

Michael McAlister
Michael McAlister
4 years 10 months ago
I made a New Year resolution to try to ignore the differences from me that I see in others and focus on how much we are alike. I was thinking about that the other night and noticed the full moon. I realized that every person who has ever lived on this planet has looked at that same moon for millions of years, including grandfather Grok. I felt connected as a thought from the Christian Scriptures, even though I am not religious, popped into my mind to love my neighbors as I do myself. At that moment I thought I can… Read more »
Burn
4 years 10 months ago

great topic Mark! There’s truly nothing like stargazing in pitch blackness… there’s so much more up there than people realize

Emily
4 years 10 months ago
When I was ten I received a telescope for Christmas. I remember seeing four of Jupitor’s moons with my trusty telescope from the front yard of my childhood home in suburban Nebraska. Even then, the lights of Omaha were encroaching on my stargazing. I also studied Greek and Roman mythology, so I would know the stories behind the constellations my Dad would point out. Now I live ouside of San Francisco, and it’s rare that there’s a break in the fog to see the night sky. When such an even occurs, I can barely make out Orion’s belt with all… Read more »
Meredith
Meredith
4 years 10 months ago

As a geologist, I get waaay out there… to places where there is no light (or sound) pollution… it is freeing… those are the places that force you stop and take it in.

Funny, this other post came across my reader today… timely.

http://thisisindexed.com/2012/01/they-all-fall-fast-and-brilliantly/

Justin
Justin
4 years 10 months ago

“Kids don’t seem to dream about becoming astronauts” I would wager that in a few years kids won’t even know what an astronaut is. It’s really sad. Great post. There is NOTHING quite like star-gazing in the country.

DavidBrennan
DavidBrennan
4 years 10 months ago
I agree with both of you, totally. A respect for grandiosity and an urge to explore and, then, to impose one’s intelligence upon it (in a constructive rather than destructive way) is the root of man’s greatness and civilization as a whole. The men who look beyond the current and see what can be studied, understood, and utilized are the reason we’re not all freezing, starving, or disease-ridden right now, in my opinion. But while boys no longer dream of being Neal Armstrong or Thomas Edison, I recently read that now American boys ages 14 to 18 have as their… Read more »
Janet
Janet
4 years 10 months ago

I work at a library, and one summer night we had a group of star-gazers bring their telescopes and one really big one you had to climb a ladder to gaze into. It was awesome, and some kids couldn’t get enough of climbing that ladder and seeing Jupiter and galaxies and Mars. It was a magical evening and I had a real sense of community also.

Eric
Eric
4 years 10 months ago
I had the good fortune to live in Tucson, AZ, where there are actual light pollution ordinances due to the proximity of the Kitts Peak National Observatory. The only place I have seen a night sky that comes close to the beautiful starlit displays of Tucson would be out on a boat doing deep sea fishing. I had toured Kitts Peak a couple of times (its an obligatory stop for any friends who came to visit) and they have a great poster in the visitor’s center that contrasts how light pollution has increased over the last 50 or so years.… Read more »
Uncephalized
Uncephalized
4 years 10 months ago

When did you live there? Because while it’s still better than Phoenix, Tucson’s got plenty of light pollution now. It’s grown a lot in the past couple of decades. If you want a city with a good night sky in AZ now, you need to go to Flagstaff, where the lighting ordinances are much stricter. Of just go out in the desert somewhere.

I moved to Phoenix this summer (because it was the only place I could find a job, not entirely by choice), and the light pollution here is HORRIBLE. Just awful. It’s never dark.

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago
The last time I was in Tucson was 1969. I just happen to remember the exact year because it was the same year as Woodstock and I was traveling in the Southwest that same summer. One of my favorite night sky experiences happened just outside of Tucson while I was staying at a private compound. I was tripping on acid (LSD) and spending some quiet time alone watching the night sky when I was joined by the resident Borzoi (Russian wolfhound). We silently communed together in what had to be a primal connection under the stars. Also in the summer… Read more »
Dave
Dave
4 years 10 months ago

Great post. Here’s a neat website to help you find a nice patch of dark sky near you…http://www.jshine.net/astronomy/dark_sky/

R.S.
R.S.
4 years 10 months ago

Got to say on this I disagree with you Mark. I just had the discussion this morning about how I cannot wait for the opportunity to move to a city big enough that it is always light. After having been far North (northern Finland) in both summer with 24 hour daylight and winter with the opposite, I am ready to live someplace that it will never be dark again. Seeing stars just reminds me of how little there is to do here.

Scott
Scott
4 years 10 months ago

One night I saw a very bright star in the sky. The next day it was still there. I was at a friend’s in the countryside, and suggested we set up his telescope to get a better look. Turns out it was Jupiter… and with the telescope, we could clearly see its moons. Standing in a friend’s garden, I could see Jupiter. Ju-pi-effing-ter! Blew my mind.

ajt
ajt
4 years 10 months ago

I’m torn on this one, because while I do love to see the stars, I also wish there were better lighting on the streets I walk the mile home (alone) at night.

toaster for sale
toaster for sale
4 years 10 months ago

You can have both. The problem with the light pollution is the light sources are shining *out* and *up*. If the lights could be focused mostly down, light pollution would not be such a problem. They do make “dark sky friendly” lights.

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

Well now maybe this is what Mark is saying about a “better way”.

ajt
ajt
4 years 10 months ago

+1. This is what we need more of, then.

Reid
Reid
4 years 10 months ago

It’s also really good exercise and relaxation for your eyes for us to use them (without strain) in the dark. Our eyes are designed to do this – not to the level that nocturnal animals can, but more than we are utilizing them. Ambient city light and indoor lights make this level of darkess hard to achieve.

hm
4 years 10 months ago

Apparently light pollution can also interrupt women’s ovulation: http://www.cheeseslave.com/lunaception-how-the-moon-can-balance-your-hormones-and-make-you-fertile/

Nancy
Nancy
4 years 10 months ago

That was the one bit of the aftermath of Hurrican Irene that I enjoyed. My town was only without power for at most one night (some areas only a few hours, we have a town utility company), and that Sunday night the sky was just amazing

Happycyclegirl
Happycyclegirl
4 years 10 months ago

Remember the blackout in Central Canada and the US about a decade ago? We actually drove up into the country to experience the blackness in all its glory. Figures we happened upon one patch where the power still flowed and the light from that small town was enough to put a damper on our experience.
I still have fond memories of sitting with friends in Northern Ontario for hours watching shooting stars and making wishes. Best of all? We were all in our twenties and thirties. ๐Ÿ™‚

Primal Texas
4 years 10 months ago

I’ve been in what I thought to be Middle-of-Nowhere, USA and seen countless stars. However, I didn’t realize how far the effects of light pollution stretched until I was in Middle-of-Nowhere, Iraq. My military brethren can attest that there are way more stars to be seen from deserts in the Middle East.

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

I believe you!

Mitch
Mitch
4 years 10 months ago

You need to try the middle of the bushveld in Rural Africa to realise just how prolific the stars are.

Nothing beats the Milky Way on a moonless night in Africa

Peter Stewart
4 years 10 months ago

Every winter when I was a child, our family would go to the Drakensberg.

When I went back after five years away I was totally astonished, and relished in just lying outside in the freezing cold, looking up at the stars. And only a flashlight to get me back to my hut.

EZ
4 years 10 months ago

When we drive somewhere we are often in areas without any cities and if the sky is clear (not often in Washington) then we always stop and gaze up with our kids. Now my daughter, a 13 year old, asks if we will be able to see the stars whenever we take a trip somewhere. The night sky we saw once so impressed her that she wants to see it again, but it is SO hard to find….

dasbutch
dasbutch
4 years 10 months ago

Have You Seen The Stars Tonight?
Would you like to go up on ‘A’ Deck and look at them with me?
Have You Seen The Stars Tonight?
Would you like to go up for a stroll and keep me company?

PAUL KANTNER

Laura
Laura
4 years 10 months ago

Ah, yes, when hurricane Fran hit NC some years ago, I totally enjoyed the experience. Not only could you see the stars fabously for days (we had no power in most parts of NC that were hit hard for 3 to 10 days), but the quietness was beautiful. No ambient background noise, at least at night. Chainsaws could be heard during the day. But, with so many trees and powerlines down across the roads, traffic was halted for days. The darkess and quietness at night was truly wonderful.

HillsideGina
HillsideGina
4 years 10 months ago
I did a stargazing tour in Sedona over Christmas – husband and I drove out via Vegas with our dog. It was wonderful. We met the guide in an unlit empty parking lot on the outskirts of town. Couldn’t see a dang thing when we got out of the car, but within minutes our eyes did what they naturally do and we saw – everything! The guide pointed out the constellations with a laser pointer and had a telescope set up to view distant galaxies. It was magical and fun. Felt like a kid again. Living in coastal L. A.… Read more »
Hardy
Hardy
4 years 10 months ago
Reminds me of the summer of 2003 when the whole eastern seaboard blacked out in August. I was at a relatives house in Toronto. The neighborhood children spilled into the street after dark and were mesmerized by the night sky, some of them were in their teens and had never seen anything like it. I was amazed, as I live in Northwestern Ontario, other than Thunder Bay, there are no lights for 100’s of miles. I’ve known the night sky my whole life! Looking forward to a good dose of Northern Lights over the next year as the solar maximum… Read more »
rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

Yes, we’ve even had some display here in SE Michigan, even with the light pollution.

Giff
Giff
4 years 10 months ago

I’ve been reading this for a few months now, never chimed in, and actually haven’t been able to get rid of a lot of it. It’s impossible to do so while in the Navy. But I will say this, I love being out to sea on a ship, everything is dark, and you can see amazing things out there. It’s so lovely.

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
4 years 10 months ago

Thank you for your service, Giff. Enjoy those night skies!

Emily Mekeel
Emily Mekeel
4 years 10 months ago

Who here can remember what they learned in school? I don’t recall stars ever being addressed and I think the only earth science class I had that I remember was in 5th grade. Certainly I had no real astronomy exposure (I get super jealous everytime I read Harry Potter and they get to go out at midnight to chart constellations). What did other people experience as far as astronomy education in school? BTW, I’m 20 so my highschool education was relatively recent.

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

In my experience (age 59), the education in the US (you don’t say where you live) has declined in several areas since I was in primary/secondary school. One of the many areas that is now less covered is astronomy, and related mythology. Even so, I envy a LOT about Harry’s Hogwarts experience!

Giff
Giff
4 years 10 months ago

Sorry, just read what I wrote before, I meant, “never been able to get STARTED on it.” My mind was elsewhere for a second.

Mary Hone
4 years 10 months ago

There is nothing better than seeing a sky packed with stars. I love to watch the night sky, shooting stars, the milky way all of it. We are lucky in that we can do that from our yard, and we go go camping in Utah’s back country, mind blowing stars.

oliviascotland
oliviascotland
4 years 10 months ago

We are so lucky to live in the countryside, with little light pollution. Going outside on a clear night is bliss – being able to see all the stars and the velvety skies, and watch the waxing and waning of the moon in great clarity. My children often take the dogs for an extra walk at night just so they can enjoy the nighttime and the night skies … last night I even caught a glimpse of the aurora borealis when putting the dogs out before bed!

alex
alex
4 years 10 months ago

It overtakes me.

and I’m there
looking up at the sky
and I’m scared
thinking ’bout the way that I,
I don’t understand
anything at all
and how it overtakes me
and I’m just so small

do I stand a chance?

Helene
Helene
4 years 10 months ago

Here, in New Zealand, we have a night sky reserve. In the small town with in this reserve all outside lights must have a cover over the light bulb to make it shine down. When you get out of this small town there are no lights for miles. The night sky is fantastic.

John
John
4 years 10 months ago

While all these other sentiments are valid, I can’t believe no one has mentioned the probable havoc light pollution causes with some animals, birds, and insects.

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

And plants. Many plants are photo sensitive, especially to day length. Green houses control day length and light intensity to control blooming cycles for several commercially popular plants. Even home gardens can be affected by light pollution.

I once had a garden in a rural area where the only light pollution was a security light that the former residents had installed near where I located my small orchard and canning garden. It had to go.

Sharon
Sharon
4 years 10 months ago

One thing the people of North Korea must be enjoying is the night sky. At night, very few lights are visible from outer space in the entire country.

I wonder if the night sky is inspiring any of them?

shannon
shannon
4 years 10 months ago

Once I slept outside on the ground in far west texas, in the Big Bend. I think it was fall of 2005. I was having menopausal night sweats, and I kept waking up and throwing off the sleeping bag top cover. I woke up about every hour or two. Whenever this happened, I could see that the stars had moved: they were wheeling in the sky, all night long. It was so mysterious and wonderful.

Wendy
Wendy
4 years 10 months ago

I lived in Breckenridge Colorado for three years, which is at 10,000 feet, and the first thing I remember is looking up at the night sky – it was SO bright – like nothing I have ever seen. I felt like I could reach up and touch the stars they looked so close….. Just awesome.

madmav
madmav
4 years 10 months ago

Most mountain cities in the Rockies have spectacular night skies

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

Yes, but you should see Denver from many miles away camping under the open night skies. Its a bowl of light with a dome of light.

Molly
Molly
4 years 10 months ago

Crested Butte…nothing more awesome than a cold winter night sky in the mountains. Gotta get there soon.

madmav
madmav
4 years 10 months ago

Light pollution form orbit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74mhQyuyELQ

jr
jr
4 years 10 months ago

Stikky Night Skies:

http://www.stikky.com/0001-nightskies/0001-fulldetails.html

Fun for learning constellations at any age. Check out the sample pages to learn Orion.

Linda Sand
Linda Sand
4 years 10 months ago

More and more people are choosing to live full-time in recreational vehicles traveling around this great country of ours. Even whole families are doing this while homeschooling their kids. Living this way makes you very aware of all those little lights using up your limited energy plus it makes stargazing and forest bathing MUCH easier. Find a way to do this, people.

lostAnnfound
lostAnnfound
4 years 10 months ago

That’s what I’m talking about! Waiting for the kids to be off on their own & then we’ll be hitting the road full-time.

rrustad
rrustad
4 years 10 months ago

You’ve got my vote! Now, if I can only convince my husband after he retires, too…..

Meanwhile, he lives in our rural home year round in the midst of a 10,000 acre forest. No lights. No near neighbors. Lots of wild life. All the stars he cares to see. I am only there part of the year and in the very light polluted city the rest of the year. So, he tends to take the stars for granted and I don’t.

Nicky
Nicky
4 years 10 months ago

Many songbirds migrate at night and all the excess light messes them up.

Marsha Stopa
4 years 10 months ago

I moved out of a large metropolitan area last June to a small town of 7,000 in Western North Carolina. One of the biggest, most delightful surprises is how many stars I can see on a clear night — and I live in town!

I completely agree with Mark’s sentiments. Seeing the stars at night, at will, is bringing me closer to the nature I moved here to meet again.

Kim
Kim
4 years 10 months ago

The most brilliant night sky I have ever seen was in northern Wisconsin in the fall. It was so bitterly cold camping by the lake, but the total lack of any artificial light, the crystal clear night sky, and the reflection of the stars on the lake, honestly it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I thank God every night for his generosity in sharing his awesome creation with us.

melissa daams
melissa daams
4 years 10 months ago
my sister and I used to fantasize about how we could break this night lamp that stood outside and across the street from our bedroom window. It was a very annoying bright orange light with a buzz sound and I didn’t get a good night’s sleep until I moved to the front room of the house… I loved living in Utah later when you could look up at the night sky and see the milky way, and my Internet boyfriend at one time didn’t believe me that you could see the milky way with the naked eye – as he… Read more »
Primal Toad
4 years 10 months ago

It’s been more than a few months since I have looked up at the sky at night and just thought and talked about the stars and how amazing life is. That was on Lake Michigan back in the late summer.

It would be such a privilege to be able to enjoy the stars on a near nightly basis when the clouds don’t cover them.

I may be living in Chicago for the Summer… depending on where I am it may be possible to look up at the stars at night over Lake Michigan. Oh how kick ass that would be!

lostAnnfound
lostAnnfound
4 years 10 months ago

My 18 year-old daughter just pointed out Orion’s belt a couple of nights ago; could just barely make it out from all the street lights. Then she said “We didn’t go camping in our favorite campground in Vermont last year where we can see all the stars & the Milky Way”. Definitely going back in August – love to watch the Perseid meteor shower from there – no lights around for miles. What a thrilling sight!

T Hut
T Hut
4 years 10 months ago

It seems we primals are romantics at heart.

Jett Brenner
4 years 10 months ago

I live in San Diego. Several months ago, we can a black out that shut off power to the entire area for most of the night.

It was incredible! We felt more connected to nature and the universe. We could see the beauty of the night sky! It was spiritual….and very very romantic ๐Ÿ™‚

wpDiscuz