30 May 2023

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star...Could Be A Thing Of Past; Will Our Children Never Know Beauty Of Starry Skies Due To Rising Light Pollution

Stars have fascinated the humans since time immemorial. A number of poems have been written on the moon, stars and other heavenly bodies we see in the skies, the most famous among them being: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.... The beauty of starry skies at night charm all of us alike.

But can you believe that in a few years from now the beauty of the stars could be a thing of the past. In fact our children may not be able to see the stars and may never know how they used to look. They may be able to see stars only in books and photos.

Yes, it is true. All types of pollutions like wind pollution, sound pollution, water pollution etc are increasing. Similarly, light pollution is also increasing. 

The night sky is part of our environment and it would be a major deprivation if the next generation is never able to see it.

Scientists have said that in about two decades from now we may not be able to see a stars in the night skies because of rising light pollution.

Sky glow pollution reduces our ability to view celestial objects

Sky glow is the brightening of the night sky, mostly over urban areas, due to the electric lights of cars, streetlamps, offices, factories, buildings etc., turning night into day for people who work and play long after sunset.

People living in cities with high levels of sky glow have a hard time seeing more than a handful of stars at night. Astronomers are particularly concerned with sky glow pollution as it reduces their ability to view celestial objects.

Milky Way no longer visible to a third of humanity

British astronomer Martin Rees, has warned that light pollution conditions have rapidly deteriorated over the past few years. He said since 2016 there has been an appreciable increase in light pollution and astronomers have reported that the Milky Way was no longer visible to a third of humanity.

According to Rees, the increasing use of light-emitting diodes (LED) and other forms of lighting is brightening the night sky at a dramatic rate. Therefore we are able to see fewer stars in the skies.

He said a child who is born in a place where 250 stars are currently visible in the night sky would be able to see only 100 by the time he reaches the age of 18.

Adverse impact on wildlife, human health

Light pollution is also having an adverse impact on our wildlife. Researchers say sea turtles and migratory birds, which are led by the moon, are confused by light pollution.

Most environmental pollution on Earth comes from humans and their inventions. The electric lightbulb, thought to be one of the greatest human inventions of all time, is affecting us adversely.  

Electric light can be a beautiful thing, guiding us home when the Sun goes down, keeping us safe and making our homes cozy and bright. However, like carbon dioxide emissions and plastic, too much of a good thing has started to negatively impact the environment. 

Light pollution, the excessive or inappropriate use of outdoor artificial light, is affecting human health, wildlife behaviour, and our ability to observe stars and other celestial objects.

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