"The State of The World" Number 13
Complete Index Of All Issues
When The Stars Come Out
It is a paradox. What enables us to see at night has blinded us to what is visible at night. People of long ago had a much greater visual awareness of astronomy than people generally do today.
Modern science knows much more about the stars and the cosmos, but the very same advanced world of technology has erased the view of the heavens with what has been called "light pollution."
"Orion" is one of the most famous star patterns in the sky. Eyes alone can see Orion as shown in the photo at left below. Compare however, the view of Orion that is available to those in such a "primitive" dark sky area with the faint "light polluted" view of Orion through the sky glow of a brightly illuminated city, as shown at right below.
We live in a disk-shaped galaxy of about 400 billion stars (there are billions, perhaps even an infinite number, of other galaxies in the universe). Ancient people called it the "Milky Way" because, as seen from Earth, the central part of the disk appears like a great highway of stars. It is a spectacular view - if one is able to see it.
Unlike the washed out view of Orion that might be visible from light polluted areas, the Milky Way is usually not visible at all through sky glow. Compare the view of the Milky Way from a dark sky area above, versus the non-view from a typical city, below.
Modern technology has many advantages. However, if you do not already live in a place where what is above is just as visible as what is below, make use of any safe opportunity to experience it. Your view of the world might just get much bigger.