The NASA Black Marble, a composite image of Earth at night using 2016 VIIRS data. Photo by NASA
The NASA Black Marble, a composite image of Earth at night using 2016 VIIRS data. Photo by NASA

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Student Blog: Shining a Light on Light Pollution in CIDSR

By Mahliya Purificacion

The night sky has long been a source of awe for humanity, serving as inspiration for science, religion, and countless pieces of art and literature. For past civilizations, the constellations told stories of ancestors and great heroes, and were regular tools that aided in navigation. In more modern times, it is a source of curiosity that drove us to walk on the moon and to conceive of galaxies that are far far away. Yet, these star-studded skies we dream of are not a reality for the majority of people in the United States today. The rise of industrial civilization has created a world full of artificial light at night, including regions where poorly-shielded lighting creates conditions that are several times brighter than the natural night sky during a full moon. This excess artificial light is known as light pollution. More than 80% of our nation’s population live in urban areas and cities where light pollution obscures the view of the night sky.

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