spaceSpace and Physics

This Is What Our Cities Would Look Like Without Light Pollution

11 This Is What Our Cities Would Look Like Without Light Pollution
Hong Kong 22° 17' 55'' N 2012-03-23 Lst 14:54 THIERRY COHEN/DANZIGER GALLERY

What if our cities were lit by billions of stars? Wipe away the light and air pollution that obscures our view of the cosmos and we would be left with a dazzling light show.

French artist Thierry Cohen has done just that, depicting a world in which our cities and clear night skies co-exist together. “By combining two realities, I am making a third that you cannot see … but it exists! I am showing you the missing stars,” said Cohen to WIRED.


The eerie beauty of the images highlights what we are giving up; a lament to the skies city dwellers leave behind in order to live in a metropolis. 

Since urban skies are polluted with light from street signs and corner shops, Cohen had to travel to the same latitude in another part of the world to capture a clear view of the night sky. The resulting images are the product of under-exposure and a technique known as day for night. 

To view all 17 images, check out Thierry Cohen’s “Darkened Cities” gallery. Here are a few of our favorites.

San Francisco


San Francisco 37° 48’ 30’’ N 2010-10-09 Lst 20:58  THIERRY COHEN / DANZIGER GALLERY

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro 22° 56’ 42’’ S 2011-06-04 Lst 12:34  THIERRY COHEN / DANZIGER GALLERY



Shanghai 31° 13' 22'' N 2012-03-17 Lst 14:47  THIERRY COHEN / DANZIGER GALLERY


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