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Light Pollution Blocks Milky Way

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TopRamen

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That's sad.
I've been places with very little light pollution, and it is amazing what you can see going on up there when the conditions are right, especially with NVGs.
Here in Vermont it is not terrible, but it is also not as good as it gets.
 

aerostadt

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I saw the Milky Way in early June at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah at their annual astronomy festival. At this time of year it was just above the eastern horizon, but distinct. It could almost be mistaken as a night time cloud.
 

sed6

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Seen it myself, not to be missed. On the plus side I'd imagine most of those people are probably only a few hours trip outside of the city to be able to view it. So much of the world's beauty is right under our nose and too many people don't take the time to look.
 

Charles_McG

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The first time my wife-to-be came to visit during summer break, I was living on Michigan's Leelanau Penninsula. We walked out on a beachside boardwalk on a clear dark night. She looked up, and kept looking up and back at the arch of the Galaxy stretching overhead. Landed right on her ass.
 

rstaff3

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You could see it in W. Texas when I was a kit. You could also see shooting stars most any night.

LEDs may make things worse but you certainly can't totally blame them because you couldn't see the Milky Way around here even before LEDs were around.
 

dhbarr

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You could see it in W. Texas when I was a kit. You could also see shooting stars most any night.

LEDs may make things worse but you certainly can't totally blame them because you couldn't see the Milky Way around here even before LEDs were around.
It's a lot better than when I was younger. More energy efficient lighting, less smog.
 

woferry

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LED's are to blame according to the other articles I've read lately.
Certainly not true out my way, in fact LEDs are being used to keep the light pollution down.

San Jose has an observatory out on the hills, and the Lick Observatory has worked closely with San Jose over the years to ensure light pollution is kept low so that it can continue to operate so close to a major population center (10th largest by population in the US). As a result since the 70's or 80's San Jose has stuck to mostly sodium lighting since the light given off is in a very narrow band of the spectrum as compared to incandescent lighting which basically floods the entire visible range. As those lamps are aging and in an effort to save energy San Jose and the Lick worked together to identify more modern lighting that will work, and LED lighting is the answer. The lights on my street have already been updated. The spectral content is certainly wider, but can still be tuned more than incandescents. But the key is to not be stupid about it, don't have the streetlight throw light in every direction, but focus on lighting what you want to light (i.e. the ground underneath it). And I've seen many parking lots where the lights are governed by motion detectors, so they're much dimmer, if not off entirely, until there's motion in the area of the light then it comes on. So there's no point in flooding the area with light when nobody is around. Apparently the Lick worked in a way that they can influence San Jose's lighting should it become a problem, where they can dim the city's street lights on-demand if necessary. So the easy adjustability of LED lighting has been a plus in that regard. We still have an operating drive-in less than 6 miles from downtown, the drive-in in my home town in PA closed down 30+ years ago due to light pollution, and I wasn't even close to a big city, just in the remote suburbs (didn't help though that there was a big mall just across the street from it).

I've seen the Milky Way from my old apartment complex parking lot (early 2000's), which was less than 4 miles from downtown San Jose. It never ceases to amaze me just how many stars I can see from my front yard (and I have a street light at my curb) or my back yard, where my house is about 7 miles from downtown. It also helps that most nights are totally clear skies around here. I'll certainly admit that nothing in San Jose compares to a Black Rock evening on a new moon, that was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. Having an astronomy professor in our group who gave a great presentation on the night sky made things even better. :)

I guess I haven't taken any more recent night shots since the LED conversion started, but here's a shot from the San Jose hills (not out quite as far as the Lick) from 2010. There's a restaurant up there I go to regularly, though I'm usually taking sunset shots not night shots. My apartment complex was near the left edge of the photo (house is farther to the left, out of photo), downtown is the right ~1/3 of the picture (above the whiter ballpark lights you can see on the right, you can sort of see the buildings blocking the light of the freeway [I-280] that runs behind them). SJC airport is just past the right edge, the white dot in the sky is most likely a plane heading away from SJC.

DSC00224.jpg

Edit: Found a nice link at http://darksky.org/lighting/lighting-basics/ that talks about different fixtures and light coloring to reduce light pollution.
 
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ksaves2

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I saw it once up in the mountains in Sierra Nevada. Was sleeping in the car at a rest stop. Oh my gosh the band across the sky was awe inspiring. Kurt
 

rstaff3

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It's a lot better than when I was younger. More energy efficient lighting, less smog.
May be a little better here but I'd have to see some quantitative measurement to believe it. Can't tell by looking at the night sky. BTW the word 'may' in my last statement just means I don't know. What I do know is the bulbs the road people use are a lot dimmer than when I was a kid and are a color that makes them harder to see under. I'd think a LED may could be worse depending on the frequency and power.
 
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