Starry starless nights

Apologies to Don McClean :).

I’m sitting here looking out the door at a wonderful sight – the Milky Way. Even though the moon is up, there’s no human generated light out here for miles around, so the light reflection is very low. On a moonless night, the stars seem so close you feel you can reach up and touch them.

I was thinking back to a time when I moved to one of Australia’s largest cities and pined for the stars – there was so much light relection, most nights you couldn’t see any. It was hard to sleep as it always seemed to be dawn. Even in the smaller city where I now spend a great deal of time, the number of stars visible is dramatically reduced.

The New York Times mentioned recently that on a scale of 1 – 9, with 1 being very dark, New York City ranks as a 9. It also mentions that during a blackout in Los Angeles, some residents panicked when they saw the Milky Way.

The night sky is one of nature’s marvels and I really feel for those people, particularly children, who don’t get to see it in all its majesty.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to see at least some stars of a night time, try this – instead of just glancing up, stand outside for a while and stare at the sky, don’t move your eyes from it – don’t look at any other light sources. After a few minutes, you’ll see increasing numbers of stars as your eyes adjust.

Sometimes we don’t know what we’re missing if we’ve never experienced it – and the night sky is one of these wonders we are losing thanks to light pollution. It’s not just about not being able to see stars, it affects plants and animals directly and also indirectly contributes to increased carbon dioxide emissions – the leading cause of global warming. Learn more about light pollution


Noise pollution