Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blinded by the Light

Besides apparently wreaking havoc on migratory birds’ flight patterns, the increasing “light pollution” associated with the expansive suburbanization of America (as starkly depicted in the NASA photo above) has also compromised our appreciation of the heavens. Nighttime stargazing just isn’t what it used to be – a diminishment noticeable just in my lifetime. And though I live in a suburb 40 miles from the closest big city, being on the Eastern Seaboard, it doesn’t really matter, there is never the black velvety darkness through which celestial gems glisten in the night.

Where I live, despite having the darkness of the ocean nearby to the east, the night sky ranks only about a 4.5 as measured on the graphic above. That’s why it’s such a joy to get up to the remote environs of Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine, once in a while. There one can enjoy an unadulterated view of the nighttime sky ... No. 1, indeed!

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