Lying on a dam, stargazing and sleeping out with the group I’m leading, in the middle of a camp in rural Kentucky. . There is a 0% chance of storms, and the sky is perfectly clear. As we look up at the night sky, a smog overcomes it. That smog is lights from an urban area a 20 minute drive away from us.
Coming over the trees, the lights of Owensboro, Kentucky, impede our stargazing. A yellow haze, exactly like the smog I used to see floating over Denver, Colorado, on really hot days when I lived there. The big dipper is halfway gone, swallowed up by the light pollution.
This probably isn’t a shock. We all know city lights impact your stargazing. It has been called light pollution for years, and when I traveled through Peru two years ago with Global Explorers, we all talked about being night sky ambassadors. But none of that really impacted me until I could see the lights impacting my beautiful stargazing night.
As the world becomes more populated and urban, so much is disappearing. Forests are gone, lakes and rivers are becoming polluted, the air is filling with smog, and fields are becoming parking lots. The night sky to some is an untouched wonder, but society is beginning to destroy that as well. We all need to be night sky ambassadors, by turning off our lights, and resisting growing levels of urbanization.