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The Milky Way vanishes… June 12, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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.this report on how a third of humanity can no longer see the Milky Way at night due to light pollution is oddly dispiriting.

The study reveals that 60% of Europeans and almost 80% of North Americans cannot see the glowing band of our galaxy because of the effects of artificial lighting, while it is imperceptible to the entire populations of Singapore, Kuwait and Malta.

Yet many of us share this experience. I’ve noticed that in the last decade or so the night skies become increasingly obscured. I’m in Donegal a fair bit and even there, close to Dungloe, while there’s a much greater spread of stars, a true sense of the Milky Way is increasingly difficult to get. In Dublin it’s near enough pointless. The brighter stars and the planets are visible but often little else.

And as one contributor in this piece on the Guardian notes, so much of the light in our cities is actually wasted. One has to wonder what this represents in terms of energy loss. But beyond that the loss of our sense of our place in a truly massive, near enough incomprehensibly large, universe, or this small corner of it is immeasurable.

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1. An Sionnach Fionn - June 12, 2016

I was in Mayo recently and the number of stars visible during one cloudless, moonless night was astonishing. It is so easy to forget what a “real” sky looks like. Light pollution is awful. The massive Tesco warehouse in Fingal is lit up like a Christmas tree and has ruined the night sky for kms around. I dunno how they get away with it.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2016

+1 and the question then arises, to what purpose re the Tesco warehouse. I know it myself and who the hell is it supposed to be lit up for? Madness.

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2. Bartholomew - June 12, 2016

West Kerry is a designated ‘dark sky ‘ area:

http://kerrydarksky.com/

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Gewerkschaftler - June 12, 2016

Really? Another good reason to visit west Kerry.

And hope for a break in the cloud.🙂

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3. Gewerkschaftler - June 12, 2016

The last time I really saw the stars was in the Andes many, many moons ago.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2016

That must have been spectacular, and I know what you mean re really seeing the stars. Best I’ve seen in the last twenty years ago was on Inis Mean in the 1990s, Donegal in recent years and oddly south of Kilkenny in a natural depression surrounded by reasonably high hills about four years ago. But I doubt that was a patch on what you saw. Those are the places to go to really see the night sky.

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Ed - June 14, 2016

I was in the Sahara about ten years ago; when they turned out the lights in the campsite, there was a proper Carl Sagan-style moment of awe looking up at the sky and seeing everything properly for what must have been the first time in my life (as a Dub). It was mad to think that this must have been everyone’s view every night in most parts of the world before electricity (clouds allowing).

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WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2016

Interesting, that i envy i was in Tunisia in 2000 on a package holidayent down to Sahara on overnight yoke, didn’t notice stars but up very early next morning with sun coming up over salt flats. Amazing

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LeftAtTheCross - June 14, 2016

First time I saw the Milky Way was lying on my back pissed near Tinahely at the age of 20. It was awesome. Added to by the pints of course. Twice as many stars in fact. We’ve no near neighbours out here in Meath, and no street lights, so the stars are with us every night, unless the distant streetlights of metropolitan Kells interfere with the view. I can only imagine what the view would be like in the Andes or the Sahara. As an aside, my son finds the night sky quite terrifying, he gets freaked out by the infinity of it all, by the fact that we’re just riding a particle of dust in an ocean of stars, and that the universe doesn’t revolve around us. He’s almost 20 now himself.

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