The night sky blotted by the sparkles of stars and the moon is a spectacular view. Unfortunately, many people can no longer appreciate the natural magnificence of the evening sky because it is already cloaked by the haze of artificial lighting.
The impact of light pollution driven by bright billboards, cars, street lamps and those that come from homes and commercial buildings is such that a third of humanity can long longer view the Milky Way.
"The Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity, including 60 percent of Europeans and nearly 80 percent of North Americans," researchers wrote in a new study published in the journal of Science Advances on June 10.
Impact Of Light Pollution
Light pollution does not just shroud our view of the natural night sky. Experts have also found that exposure to artificial light at night impacts human health as it interferes with the body's circadian rhythm and contributes to sleep problems.
The artificial brightness also causes migratory birds to go off track and confuses animals that hunt at night. Baby sea turtles that depend on moonlight to go to the ocean after hatching may likewise end up somewhere else because of man-made lights.
Restoring The Natural Night Sky
Unlike other forms of pollution, light pollution is reversible, which means that the days of stargazing at dark skies are far from over and there is still a chance to mitigate problems linked to artificial lighting.
The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), an organization that attempts to combat light pollution, recommends using energy efficient bulbs and keeping the blinds drawn at night to reduce light pollution.
It also urges people to only use lighting when needed. This means switching off lights in rooms when there is no one around or when illumination is not needed. Installing motion detector lights and timers makes it easier to eliminate unnecessary use of artificial lights.
Experts recommend that communities experiment with technologies that curbs light pollution. The so-called full cutoff lighting helps prevent light flashing up into the sky.
IDA also said that another way to help restore the natural night sky is to help spread awareness of light pollution.
"Many people either don't know or don't understand a lot about light pollution and the negative impacts of artificial light at night," IDA said.
"By being an ambassador and explaining the issues to others you will help bring awareness to this growing problem and inspire more people to take the necessary steps to protect our natural night sky.