What If New York City Had No Light Pollution?

I grew up on a small island off the West Coast of Canada, with the darkest skies you could hope for. Although I live in a small town now, with some light pollution, I can still see the Milky Way from my backyard.

But for the people living in some of the biggest cities in the world, like New York City, the sky is so much worse – the light pollution is ever present. You can see the few brightest stars and some of the planets, but mostly the sky is just a dull yellow glowing mess. And that’s a shame that so much of the world is cut off from the incredible night sky that inspires our curiosity to explore the Universe.

Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic from the SKYGLOW project are working to give people living under constant light pollution a sense of what it looks like to live in a world where they could actually see the Milky Way every night. And their latest video shows this perspective from a view in New York City.

The team carefully matched up timelapse video of New York City with the pristine night skies of the Grand Canyon and Death Valley International Dark-Sky Parks.

For most of the world, light pollution is an ongoing and growing concern, and the International Dark Sky Association is taking the week of April 15-21 to celebrate the night sky. They’ve got ways you can take action to push back against light pollution.

During this week, and really any time, I highly recommend you use a tool like the Dark Sky Finder to search for areas near you that’ll have the least amount of light pollution. Even folks in New York City can drive for a couple of hours to some relatively dark skies and appreciate the night sky as it was meant to be seen.

Source: SKYGLOW Project

2 Replies to “What If New York City Had No Light Pollution?”

  1. I remember reading that some new yorkers, on the day of the big East Coast blackout a few years ago, called 911 to report unusual lights in the sky. Those lights were, in fact, stars! 🙂

    1. I heard a similar story about LA, where people reported mysterious “clouds” in the sky during a blackout. Poor folks had never seen the Milky Way before 🙂

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