The death of the Milky Way. :-(

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simonm
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The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by simonm » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:34 pm

While trying to see if there is any spot near where I am

where I might have a chance of seeing some meteorites last night I came across this.
Due to light pollution, the Milky Way is not visible to more than one-third of humanity, including 60% of Europeans and nearly 80% of North Americans.
(https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/6/e1600377) The article was published in 2016.

We can probably nitpick a bit about the numbers but the message is clear. There are large areas of Europe where there is basically no visible nightsky. If you are very lucky you might spot a couple of the brightest stars and Venus or Jupiter once in a while. Even if you are one of the lucky 40% who can "see" the milky way in Europe you are likely to have a poor view.

We once went to Tenerife in the winter hoping for a nice night sky as it boasts being home to many major telescopes. We drove up Teide late at night. We were thoroughly disappointed. While the sky directly overhead was good, the light coming up all around played havoc with the rest. I can only assume it has gotton a lot worse in the last 10-15 years.

In my travels last night I used this site https://www.lightpollutionmap.info and found a relatively good spot north west of Rothenburg/Tauber about an hours drive away. I was quite surprised to discovered that a lot of the little towns in that darker area are acting quite deliberately - the street lights all turned off late at night. I didn't see any sign-posting saying what the hours are. Most private houses did likewise. I don't know how widespread the initiative is in the area but I will certainly go by again in the daytime and ask around. If I am here in the winter, I will definitely head out there again to view the night sky when there is no moonlight. It is a small area so around the periphery of the visible area you could see the lights of various towns but at the least the overhead was quite nice.

I wonder how many people even know the names of some of the characteristics used in the "Bortle Dark-Sky Scale". Sad.

riffmeister
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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by riffmeister » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:43 pm

Yes, the Aurora Commercialis makes viewing of the Milky Way difficult. Population estimates are for 10 billion humans by 2050 so I don't see this situation resolving during our lifetime.

Pat Dodson
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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by Pat Dodson » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:45 pm

Hmm. Complicated. For example in the UK where I live some 80% of the populace live in urban areas where light pollution does indeed make it all but impossible to see the Milky Way.

However 93% of the land is not urbanised so if you drive a few miles on a clear, moonless night to a dark spot and wait 20 minutes until your eyes adjust then, provided you know where to look you have a really good chance of seeing it.

To digress slightly; I am just back from holidaying in North Cornwall at a very busy time for tourism. The beach within a quarter of a mile of a car park was always really packed. But walk along it another half a mile and it will be almost empty. I have photos of over a mile of sand with almost nobody in shot.
707124EC-CF99-4E61-A754-1D05A2994399.jpeg
St Agnes - Porthtowan 5th August 2019 14.20

There are compensating benefits from the urban light. We can see in our houses. Industry, entertainment, transport and services can function during hours of darkness. Planes don’t fly into buildings.

So yes it’s a shame that many hundreds of millions of us can’t walk out their doors and see the Milky Way but the situation is not all bad. And if you want to see it you can by making a bit of an effort.
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simonm
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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by simonm » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:57 pm

Pat Dodson wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:45 pm
...
However 93% of the land is not urbanised so if you drive a few miles on a clear, moonless night to a dark spot and ..
Last night, I needed to drive almost 50km to get a reasonably dark spot.

I can look out here in the backyard and "see" the milky way in the sense of noticing a little extra light around a few constellations directly overhead but the sky is not dark by any means. Nevertheless it is a luxury already by today's standards. However, "seeing" it to the extent of being able to notice the colour differences (e.g. the greenish area or the patterns) is an altogether different thing. Zodiacal light is something just mythological by now.

I am currently trying to work out where I might be able to go in December to catch a good view of the Leonides. (3rd weekend of Dec.) Some areas in the Pyrenees or region around Teruel in Spain look relatively accessible and seem to be pretty dark but I wonder what the likely cloud cover would be. If some of the villages (even just the totally empty tourist complexes) near where I live would turn off the street lights for a few hours at night the problem would evaporate.

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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by Rognvald » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:44 am

Hi, Simonm,
I'm an offshore sailor. If you love the night sky, head offshore 10 miles or so and you will be amazed at the clarity of the night sky. However, the greatest sight of all is watching the moonrise from the ocean. If you ever had any doubts about your life, in general, and the insignificance of human beings, you'll get it in full spades. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by VasquezBob » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:36 am

There's an incredible view of the Milky Way on-line that was taken from outer space that identifies a "twist" in the Milky Way. However, if you want to see the Milky Way with naked eyes while standing on Earth, I recommend visiting the pyramids in eastern Mexico where there are few city lights. How's that for a new "twist"?

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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by Pat Dodson » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:06 am

Apologies Simon; I confess I overegged my arguments somewhat. To redress the balance here’s a very interesting website concerning the Commission for Dark Skies:

http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/cfd ... opic=about

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slidika
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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by slidika » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:42 am

Yeah, I had seen a few Hollywood movies which showed a lot of stars in the sky and figured that was just Hollywood. Then my wife and I went camping out in a place away from all light pollution and fortunately it was a clear night. There were a LOT of stars visible, so many that we laid down on the ground so as not to strain our necks while looking at them for a bit. I will never forget that sight. :roll:
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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by PeteJ » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:01 pm

It's an environmental tragedy. They've installed new lighting around me and all enjoyment of the nights sky has been banished. Often it's a struggle even to look up. The semi-rural views around me have been urbanised and rendered ugly.

The British Astronomical Society have warned against this new bright, white lighting, noting that it is a global experiment for which nobody knows the outcome. In conjunction with the Campaign for the Protection for Rural England (some chance) they run a star-survey every year, and every year the result is that we can see less of the night sky than the year before. At night I now live in a cold and hostile neigbourhood where once it was friendly and 'chocolate-box' in character and the night sky is never dark.

This brutalisation of the environment is for the sake of saving money and in this respect it succeeds. But the lights are not fit for purpose. We should all complain. The problem is that lighting decisions are taken locally, so a national protest movement is difficult to get off the ground.

I suppose we'll just have to put up with blue-rich lighting that is harmful and nasty. Then we'll have to have 5G so we can bombard the world with hi frequency radiation. Then Bill Gates will start his project to pump millions of tons of particulates into the atmosphere to add to the already poisonous mix in the name of solar radiation management. Then we'll pump millions of tons of phosphates into the oceans to control plankton growth and CO2 absorption. At around this point I would imagine that the sh.. will finally and terminally hit the fan.

I would have stopped funding science a long time ago. Regrettably, my grass-roots party the New Luddites is not yet in a position to run for election, but membership is growing.

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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:10 pm

PeteJ wrote:... my grass-roots party the New Luddites is not yet in a position to run for election ...
Well, the old Luddites were much better Pete.

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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by Rick Hutt » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:45 pm

In 1967-68, I lived in a Dominican Novitiate in Winona, MN. It was on top of the largest hill for miles, with only farmland surrounding us, and the town of Winona,much smaller than now, was down in a valley. Hence not much light from anywhere. I so vividly recall sitting on our grassy terrace for hours looking up at the stars. They were so bright and easy to spot. Now combined with my poor vision and all the light pollution, it's probably only a memory.
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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by astro64 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:56 pm

Join the International Dark Sky Association and make your voices heard.

simonm
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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by simonm » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:56 pm

Very nice site. Thanks for the link. Makes we want to go to Wales or to Coll. :-)

This pair of pictures on the site pretty much says it all. Bath in 1950 and in 2000. No doubt it is even worse now.

http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/ima ... 502000.jpg

The images in this explanation of zodiacal light are pretty interesting and to some extent show what you would perceive in clear conditions once your night vision kicked in fully. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zodiacal_light

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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by dan5001 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:13 am

From London I can only see 3 galaxies, about 20 stars and a few bright nebulae and clusters ☹️ but on the other hand I've had many great hours observing the moon, Jupiter, Saturn and occasionally mars. Jupiter itself is endlessly interesting. You just gotta make the best of what you got and spend some guitar budget on a nice scope 😀

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Re: The death of the Milky Way. :-(

Post by PeteJ » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:11 am

astro64 wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:56 pm
Join the International Dark Sky Association and make your voices heard.
Yes!!

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