Off the wire
U.S. dollar in mid-106 yen zone in early Tokyo deals  • Xinhua world news summary at 0030 GMT, June 13  • Eddies found to enhance survival of fish in sub-tropical waters  • Roundup: Germany shows muscle, Poland enjoys 1st win, Modric magic  • 1st LD Writethru: Man with gun, explosives tends to "harm" gay pride parade in Los Angeles  • Global warming feared to trigger tropical evacuations  • Germany beats Ukraine 2-0 in EURO 2016 Group C (updated)  • Feature: Germany still has long way to happiness  • Feature: Portugal celebrates St Anthony with weddings, popular parade  • British PM "horrified" by Orlando nightclub shooting  
You are here:   Home/ Reports & Documents

One third of humanity can't see Milky Way due to light pollution: study

Xinhua, June 13, 2016 Adjust font size:

The Milky Way is invisible to more than one third of humanity, including 60 percent of Europeans and nearly 80 percent of North Americans, a new world atlas of light pollution suggested Friday.

"Light pollution is no longer only a matter for professional astronomers," researchers from Italy, Germany, the U.S. and Israel, wrote in a paper in the U.S. journal Science Advances.

The problem "represents a profound alteration of a fundamental human experience - the opportunity for each person to view and ponder the night sky," said the study.

The new atlas, based on high-resolution satellite data and precision sky brightness measurements, documented a world that is in many places awash with light.

The most light-polluted country is Singapore, where the entire population never experiences conditions resembling true night, it found.

In Western Europe, only small areas of night sky remain relatively undiminished, mainly in Scotland, Sweden, Norway, and parts of Spain and Austria.

On the other hand, countries with populations least affected by light pollution are Chad, the Central African Republic, and Madagascar, with more than three quarters of their people living under pristine, ink-black night sky conditions.

The researchers specifically examined the G20 countries, finding that in terms of area, Italy and South Korea are the most polluted, and Canada and Australia the least.

Residents of India and Germany are most likely to be able to see the Milky Way from their home, while those in Saudi Arabia and South Korea are least likely.

In addition, almost half of the U.S. experiences light-polluted nights, despite the vast open spaces of the American west.

Overall, more than 80 percent of people on Earth live under light-polluted skies.

Light pollution does more than rob humans of the opportunity to ponder the night sky.

Unnatural light can confuse or expose wildlife like insects, birds and sea turtles, with often fatal consequences, according to the study.

"I hope that this atlas will finally open the eyes of people to light pollution," lead author Fabio Falchi from the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute said in a statement.