Society for Popular Astronomy

Missing out on the Milky Way
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Author:  brian livesey [ Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:31 am ]
Post subject:  Missing out on the Milky Way

Scientists are saying that a third of the global population are unable to see the Milky Way because of light pollution.
A press report some years ago said that when Los Angeles had an electricity blackout because it couldn't pay its electricity bill, some of its citizens were terrified to see the Milky Way blazing down on them. It was so unfamiliar to them that they were overcome by it in a negative way.
The problem of light pollution is most acute in developed economies. It's reckoned that in the USA, 80 per cent of the population is affected by light pollution.
Dr. Chris Elvidge at the National Center for Environmental Information in Boulder, Colorado, said: We've got whole generations of people in the US who have never seen the Milky Way. It's a big part of our connection with the cosmos - and it's been lost."
A team of American and Italian scientists have come up with a new atlas of global light pollution published in the journal "Science Advances". The darkest regions to date are Canada and Australia. In Western Europe, only a few places remain relatively unaffected by light pollution, mainly Scotland, Norway and Sweden.
Here in the North West, parts of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales can stlll offer dark sky conditions.

Author:  mike a feist [ Sun Jun 12, 2016 8:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way to see the Milky W

It is all very well having special areas "in the countryside" where it is "dark enough" to see the Milky Way, there are some areas of the South Downs Country Park which apparently are pretty dark, but that does not help an individual who wants to "skywatch" from his home regularly, especially if not a car driver. Therefore, although I can often see the Milky Way from my back garden, specially in the early hours, it is most sensible for me to concentrate on objects that I can see well - sometimes if the damned clouds will permit.
The fact that in the blackout in the USA, people did not recognise the Milky Way and apparently were afraid or upset by it, hardly surprises me as even well-educated people cannot even recognise some of the brightest objects in the sky and are often even surprised that you can actually see the Moon in daylight or Jupiter with the unaided eye, confuse comets with meteors and even more worrying confuse astronomy with astrology. regards maf - grey & raining here!

Author:  David Frydman [ Sun Jun 12, 2016 1:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

Many astronomers are taken aback and don't know what a circumzenithal arc is.
Even though very experienced they think they have seen something new.

I haven't seen the Milky Way for about 20 years.


Author:  brian livesey [ Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

You can buy your own Milky Way at any general store David, but not so good for the teeth :wink: .

Author:  David Frydman [ Mon Jun 13, 2016 2:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

Fluorigard once a day and floss and it is fine.


Author:  Brian [ Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

Also here: ... -pollution

Author:  PAG [ Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

Just been reading a book about North Korea and a satellite pic of the area shows just black where N. Korea is.
Don't fancy moving there though just to see the milky way.
Oddly enough when I lived in Surrey inside the M25 I often saw the milky way.

Author:  brian livesey [ Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

whether or not we can see the Milky Way from urban and suburban locations, depends to a large extent on artificial light pollution levels combined with air humidity and particulate pollution.
If we have unshielded lights blazing directly in our face, as we have with unshielded road lamps and security lights, the glare will obviously prevent us from seeing the Milky Way.
If the night air is high in water vapour and/or particles of soot, light shining up into the sky will be reflected back to the ground, obscuring the Milky Way.
There are occasions when it's still possible to see the Milky Way - at least directly overhead - from urban areas when the air is relatively dry and particle-free, and the observer is shielded from direct exposure to artificial lights.

Author:  mike a feist [ Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

I live in what used to be rather a rural area, Mile Oak, Upper Portslade, being just a few roads leading up to Mile Oak Farm. The whole dry chalk valley is now pretty much been built on in the last 50 years, and I guess is mostly now suburban with semi-rural hills nearby. Out of the view of direct street lighting (if one situates oneseft correctly), the back garden also backs onto the Park. The visibility of the Milky Way to the unaided eye can be quite surprisingly obvious given just the right conditions. Only a couple of days ago while skywatching after midnight, I thought "Oh, looks like a bit of cirrus cloud building up there", and then realised that it was, of course, the Milky Way in Cygnus. regards maf

Author:  Cliff [ Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

Dear al(L)
I observe the Sun nowadays. I don't night sky observe nowanights. However, back in 1999 our family stayed near Padstow hoping to see the Total Solar Eclipse. A great week for weather but clouded out for the Eclipse. The night before though we got some super views of the night sky & Milky Way. A friend of mine camped near Land's End - no eclipse! - but the night before he & many other campers really enjoyed a clear night sky. Apparently the Farmer owning the camp site joined the star-gazing campers for a pleasant chat. To my friends amazement the Farmer thought the Milky Way was actually cloud.
Best wishes from Cliff

Author:  RMSteele [ Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

Its a great shame that the natural sky is spoiled for me and most of the world's population. Not that many of 'em would bother to look anyway, even if lighting were to be strictly controlled. It wouldn't make much difference to crime or accidents whatever anyone thinks, since the biggest factors are alcohol, drugs, and social influences. And even if I'm wrong, I don't give a flying fish about business insurance, public liability and people falling over in the dark. It's a lot easier to mug someone when you can see what you're doing. Turn all the b....y lights off after 11pm. Bob

Author:  brian livesey [ Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

How right you are Bob. Night-time light pollution makes us more vulnerable to crooks, not less. No longer can we disappear into the shadows in urban and suburban areas in the perpetual twilight cast by artificial lighting.
I was out with the binoculars attached to the homemade mirror-mount the other evening and the light pollution from kitchen and bedroom windows, compounded with external (in)security lights, was awful. Many a front garden is being lit up with all-year-round ornamental, solar, "fairy lights" to add to the problem.
Let's move to North Korea. They probably wouldn't bother us if we didn't get political. We could tell them that we are refugees from decadent Western light pollution. :wink:

Author:  Brian [ Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

If Kim has his way he will put the lights out for all of us - permanently :roll:

Author:  brian livesey [ Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

Kim isn't in a hurry to commit suicide, even if he's a wrong 'un. He should start using those binoculars he's often seen with for sky-watching, then he might grasp the bigger picture.
Maybe they should make binocular sky-watching mandatory for all political leaders to deflate their egos :lol: .

Author:  David Frydman [ Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missing out on the Milky Way

The binocular I see him using is probably a cheap 10x50 fixed focus.
Looks like a Konus or similar.
20 quid.

It may be him or us.


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