A third of the world population – including 80% of Americans and 60% of Europeans – cannot see the Milky Way because of light pollution produced in developed countries by artificial lights. This is one of the main conclusions of a new atlas of light pollution produced by scientists from Italy, Germany, the United States and Israel and published Friday in the journal “Science Advances”.
Light pollution is one of the most widespread forms of environmental change and creates a luminous fog that hides the stars and constellations of the night sky. According to the atlas shows, 83% of the world population lives under a sky with a high light pollution, a percentage that in the case of American and European reaches 99%. This problem is greater in countries such as Singapore, Italy and South Korea, while Canada and Australia have the darkest sky.
In Western Europe, only small areas of the night sky have a vision without problems, particularly in Scotland, Sweden and Norway, and also recorded low levels of light pollution in parts of Austria, in Corsica and in the Spanish province of Cuenca. And in the case of the US, some of its national parks are almost the last refuge of darkness – places like Yellowstone and the desert Southwest -, according to the Atlas coauthor, Dan Duriscoe, the National Park Service.
The areas that have cleaner skies are Greenland, Central African Republic, the island of Niue (Pacific), Somalia and Mauritania, and those who are worse off – with at least half of its population that is extremely bright skies – are Singapore, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Israel, Argentina, Libya and Trinidad and the Latin American countries that enjoy the cleaner sky light view are Costa Rica, Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
The regions in which it is harder to see the Milky Way are the Nile Delta (Egypt), the Po Valley (northern Italy), the Region of Belgium-Netherlands-Germany, Boston and Washington in the US, London, Liverpool and Leeds in the UK and the areas around Paris, Beijing and Hong Kong.