Of the 10,000 or so nights I’ve spent on this planet, I’ve never seen a completely dark night sky.
This doesn’t make me unusual. In virtually every city across the United States — and increasingly, around the developing world — street lamps, outdoor signs, and car headlights are shining 24 hours a day, drowning out the stars above in a dull orange glow. For years, I’ve written about astronomical phenomena like meteor showers. But the sad truth is that, like most of the people reading and sharing these articles, I can barely see what’s described in them.
Light pollution isn’t exactly breaking news. But by nature, it’s a problem that obscures its own severity. “We’re losing the night sky so gradually that people don’t quite realize what we’re giving up,” says Tyler Nordgren, an astronomer and dark-sky advocate. He worries that the older generation of people who grew up being able to see the Milky Way is disappearing — and today’s children literally have no idea what our ancestors looked at every evening as they went to sleep.
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