Map of the day: North American light pollution


Map of North America’s artificial sky brightness, in twofold increasing steps, as a ratio to the natural sky brightness.

Map of North America’s artificial sky brightness, in twofold increasing steps, as a ratio to the natural sky brightness.

From “The new world atlas of artificial night sky brightness,” a look at how artificial light has captured the night on much of the earth’s land surface, just published in Science [open access].

The abstract of the study:

Artificial lights raise night sky luminance, creating the most visible effect of light pollution—artificial skyglow. Despite the increasing interest among scientists in fields such as ecology, astronomy, health care, and land-use planning, light pollution lacks a current quantification of its magnitude on a global scale. To overcome this, we present the world atlas of artificial sky luminance, computed with our light pollution propagation software using new high-resolution satellite data and new precision sky brightness measurements. This atlas shows that more than 80% of the world and more than 99% of the U.S. and European populations live under light-polluted skies. The Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity, including 60% of Europeans and nearly 80% of North Americans. Moreover, 23% of the world’s land surfaces between 75°N and 60°S, 88% of Europe, and almost half of the United States experience light-polluted nights.

One response to “Map of the day: North American light pollution

  1. Interesting post. I wrote on the same topic a while ago.
    https://thesciencegeek.org/2015/10/24/dark-skies/

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