The omnipresence of artificial light, brilliant in its intentions, has become as much of a nuisance as a blessing in cities where we almost can’t tell night from day. Enter global light pollution. Is there any escape? The bright lights get in the way of astronomy–and affect animals and plants (who can’t just pull the shades down). Scientists are looking to “dark sky” initiatives to protect areas unscathed by light pollution; there are now dark-sky-designated areas in North America, South America and Europe. Interactive dark sky maps, courtesy of Esri, show where on Earth one might find respite from the glare–and where it’s at its most intense.
Though we may not even notice the constant presence of artificial light, its inescapable glare is fairly recent from an historical perspective. Almost three quarters of American homes had electricity by the 1920s. By the 1930s, just about every corner of New York City was lit up when the lights went down. Life was no longer tied to the daily rhythm of the sun and the stars. That, allegedly, was the good news. but soon there was no way to turn down the glare to get a good look at the stars.
Since the 1980s, organizations like the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), the UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership and IUCN Dark Skies Advisory Group (DSAG) have been attempting to curb light pollution. A first step has been to identify the places where light pollution has less impact and protect those places so future generations might be able to gaze at the night sky.
On the maps, “firefly” and “sprite” symbols are used together to light the way to dark-sky places around the globe Five types of dark-sky designations are used, in accordance with IDA categories, and with reference to DSAG and other classifications as far as possible.
Find your way to a dark place courtesy of IUCN Dark Skies Advisory Group.
In some places, there’s definitely no escape.
[Via Gooogle Maps Mania]
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