A third of the population can’t see the Milky Way at night | Science News

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A third of the population can’t see the Milky Way at night

A new atlas reveals where light pollution obscures the night sky

2:30pm, June 10, 2016

NIGHT LIGHTS  More than a third of Earth’s population can no longer see the Milky Way at night, a new atlas of light pollution shows. Chad, Central African Republic and Somalia boast the most pristine skies, while Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are among those countries with the worst light pollution. 

At night, a river of stars cuts through the dense darkness of space. These celestial bodies form our galaxy’s core and their soft glow earned our galaxy the moniker “Milky Way.” But for more than a third of Earth’s population, the glare of artificial lights conceals this cosmic wonder from view, researchers report June 10 in Science Advances. Nearly 80 percent of North Americans and 60 percent of Europeans can no longer see the galactic core at night, the researchers estimate.

Using a combination of satellite measurements and on-the-ground observations, the researchers assembled the first global atlas of artificial sky luminance, recording light pollution from everything from streetlamps to spotlights. Nearly four in five people worldwide live under light-polluted skies, the atlas reveals. Singapore boasts the brightest nights, the team found, with skies so luminous that no one

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