IN 2009, my friend Joanne and I tried to witness a meteor shower in the heart of Dublin, Ireland. To be able to see anything, we decided we should head to Phoenix Park, which is mostly unlit at night. Not only did this little adventure end up being rather scarry, but it was an utter failure because the city’s lights were just too bright, even in the deepest, darkest parts of the parc. This was the first time I realized the extent of light pollution.
Two years after that, I was liying on my deck in Nelson, British Columbia, looking at what I should have seen in Dublin back in the days: steaks of lights in the night sky left by bits of comet debris. The sky was unbelievably clear because the town’s lights were almost non-existent. Only a few things in this life are that beautiful.
Cities being overlit may never have been regarded as a big deal to you, but let’s put it this way: if 99% of Americans live in an area that is considered light-polluted, that means that all these people never get to see a meteor shower, the Milky Way, or simply a star-filled sky. How sad is that?
The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) is doing great work in trying to reduce the glow of the world’s cities’ lights to protect the night sky and to allow all of us to witness the amazing spectacle of the Universe. Have a watch and be grateful for these guys.