(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from NOIRLab NSF, as part of the Globe at Night program, found that light pollution, which has deprived about 30% of people around the world of the opportunity to observe the stars at night, is growing by about 7-10% annually.
The researchers have been collecting star visibility data since 2011. Anyone can submit sightings through the Globe at Night web app.
Scientists analyzed more than 50 thousand observations that were collected from 2011 to 2022 in Europe and North America.
After excluding factors that could affect visibility (cloudiness and moonlight), the researchers found that the brightness of the night sky has grown by 9.6% per year over the past decade.
This is much larger than the global increase in surface brightness, which was about 2% per year.
At this rate of change, a child born in a place where 250 stars are visible will only be able to see about 100 by age 18.
The change in sky brightness over time has not previously been measured on a global scale.
Although it could be measured using satellites, the only modern sensors that monitor the entire Earth do not have sufficient accuracy or sensitivity.
Moreover, the artificial brightness, according to satellite data, has decreased somewhat in both Europe and North America.
Light pollution is a well-known problem that has many detrimental consequences not only for astronomical practice. It also disrupts the biological clock and leads to the loss of cultural heritage.
People throughout history have had access to observations of the starry sky, which is reflected in the myths and buildings created in accordance with the celestial bodies.
The results of scientists have demonstrated the possibility of using “civil science”, that is, using data collected by ordinary people in the analysis.
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