More and more of the world is missing out on the opportunity to witness the stars in all their glory. Two projects using different means to reverse that trend have teamed up to produce a breathtaking video of what people living in areas affected by light pollution are missing.
Five years ago, a study found a third of the world's people can't see the Milky Way from where they live. The figure could be higher now, with more people having moved into big cities and the spread of night lights in less populated areas. Even among those who can make out the glow of our galaxy, most have lost the full glorious view our ancestors could see for most of human evolution.
This isn't just an aesthetic loss. Although some of the light pollution that cuts off our view of the stars is an inevitable by-product of things we value, like streets lit up for safety, much of it is just a waste of energy. Poorly directed light ends up bouncing off smog and natural particles rather than being used where it is needed, blocking our view of the sky in the process. Correcting the problem also means wasting less fossil fuels.
One form of resistance to the trend is the establishment of dark sky sites, where lighting is strictly controlled to limit light pollution. Such sites preserve the capacity of nearby major telescopes to do their job (although there is not much they can do about satellites) and provide reminders to visitors of what could be.
Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, Custer County, Colorado are two examples. Both located in Wet Mountain Valley. these towns are trying to turn their recognized Dark Sky status into an income-spinner, pitching themselves as places where tourists can see the stars, and still have a comfortable bed afterward.
SKYGLOW provides another approach, producing timelapse videos and books of the beauty of the sky at famous locations, like the Grand Canyon, or combining film from different places to show what major cities' skies could be like.
Now the two have combined, with SKYGLOW's latest video featuring both day and night skies from the two communities.
Fair warning. Watching this video may make you want to make a journey that isn't necessarily safe mid-pandemic.
If you'll settle for somewhere not quite as dark, but closer to home, Darksitefinder.com offers some suggestions. On the other hand, if you don't expect to leave home for a while, you might take some comfort in a few of SKYGLOW's other creations we have featured.