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Archive for July 13th, 2018

We’re busy here on Metinic Island as we monitor chicks and nests for common and arctic terns, black guillemots, and Leach’s storm-petrels. While most of our work occurs during the day, some surveys for storm-petrels occur at night. Clear nights on Metinic Island are spectacular because there is no light pollution and few buildings to hinder our view. We can easily see planets, but there are seemingly thousands of stars and the Milky Way cuts across the sky. Lately, the Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower has begun and several stars are especially bright or close to planets. We are lucky to have such incredible views of the stars.

Unfortunately, many people living in major cities and suburbs rarely see the stars, or may see planets occasionally. In Nora’s home town near Los Angeles, CA, only Saturn and Jupiter are usually bright enough to be seen through the light pollution and smog. It’s a disheartening feeling to see no stars, and feel no connection with the universe. Light pollution severely limits what is visible, such that some people may never truly see the sky.

Light pollution is growing worse in many areas, but there are a few things that can be done to reduce light pollution and regain views of the stars. First, reduce the number, brightness or view of outdoor lights that are used at night. Second, reduce the number or brightness of streetlights. Third, encourage businesses to turn off or lower lights on their properties at night. And, finally, add fixtures that point light downward. Not all of these will be possible everywhere, obviously, but it seems vital to be able to see the night sky.

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