Light Pollution: Affecting Present and Future Astronomers

This is a cartoon I created showing how light pollution is not just a problem for professional astronomers.

This is a cartoon I created showing how light pollution is not just a problem for professional astronomers.

Astronomers, professional and amateur, are making observations of stars and galaxies everyday, but how much will they be able to see? Light pollution is making it harder and harder for astronomers to do their job, observe! Today we are creating large amounts of light pollution in the world and it isn’t so easy to find a place where there is low enough light pollution to observe with as much accuracy as possible. This bothers astronomers! A lot! If only they could have a place closer to home to do their observing. 

I found an organization that builds parks all over the country that will protect and preserve the night sky. There is a park right here in Michigan, although it’s in Emmet County up north. I find it really awesome to know that people are trying to keep the night sky clear of light pollution so that people can observe a starry night sky closer to home, without disruption from light pollution.

This is a picture I took of my night sky on June 25.

This is a picture I took of my night sky on June 25.

Light Pollution disrupts my own observations in my backyard. With my telescope I observe the moon and only about 3 other stars, which is all I can see. I especially want less light pollution in my area because I have kid neighbors who really like to look at the sky and I would hate to see them grow up and not be able to observe the sky as much as possible. I hypothesize that if light pollution wasn’t as prevalent in my area me, and my neighbors, would have a lot more to observe with our telescopes.


In my last post I explained what light pollution is but but I didn’t go into so much detail as what the different elements of light pollution are. There are four elements of light pollution: sky glow, glare, clutter, and light trespass. Light trespass is when light falls into places where it isn’t intended or wanted, although sometimes it’s hard to say exactly how much of that light is unwanted; sky glow is the brightening of the night sky, or parts of it, that is caused by artificial light that accumulates into a glow that can be seen from far distances; glare is a large amount of brightness that make it harder to see, and if there are huge levels than it can cause the decreasing of visibility; and clutter is light pollution that are bright and confusing grouping of different light sources that are usually present in urban areas that are over-lit. Sky glow and light trespass affect astronomers the most because they leak light into the sky a lot more excessively than clutter and glare. Here shows a way to fix the problem or at least lessen it.


Even professional astronomers are affected by light pollution. Since there is lots of light pollution astronomers have to not only have telescopes in Earth’s orbit rather than on the ground, but the people observing on the ground have to be more precise when aiming the telescope for maximum observations. Without light pollution we would be able to see thousands of stars, but if you don’t then your city is polluted with light. For more information click here to listen to an interesting audio recording that is all about light pollution.


Works Cited

“Controlling Light Pollution.” Light Pollution. International Astronomical Union, n.d. Web. 24 June 2014.

“Light Pollution and the Natural Night.” International Dark-Sky Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2014.

Kornreich, Dave. “How Does Light Pollution Affect Astronomers?” Curious About Astronomy:. Cornell University, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.

“Light Pollution—what Is It and Why Is It Important to Know?” : Light Pollution—what Is It and Why Is It Important to Know? Dark Skies Awareness, n.d. Web. 25 June 2014.

Ribble, Jim. “Who Turned Off the Stars? Light Pollution.” CNN. CNN, 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 26 June 2014.