Where are the Stars?

How Light Pollution Affects the View of the Night Sky

If you have never seen a clear, starry sky from a place devoid of light pollution then you don’t know what you’re missing. Here’s a short video by Asif Islam on how light pollution affects the view of the nightly sky. The chain of timelapse movies shows how the view gets progressively better as the light pollution reduces all over the US – from Los Angeles to Great Basin desert.

Find the Darkspots

The darkspots were determined by using darksitefinder.com on finding the locations. Traveling and shooting at every level of light pollution was a challenge. Furthermore, I was mostly alone in some of the locations, which is a bit scary because of the presence of wildlife (bear, mountain lion, snake). Despite the challenge, I was awestruck by the beauty of night sky at very less polluted areas.

Sky Glow and Milky Way

Most of us live under heavily light polluted skies, and some people have never even seen the Milky Way. During a 1994 blackout, L.A. residents called 911 when they saw the Milky Way for the first time. Although we can’t imagine popular cities like L.A. and Manhattan almost dark upon nightfall, we can limit the light pollution specially the sky glow. Sky glow is the result of light directed upward instead of where it is most useful: on streets and homes. Thus most of a city’s artificial light is wasted anyway.

We’re loosing our Connection…

We are losing our connection with the night sky, which provided us with wonders like Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza and the Mayan calendar. It also keeps our overworked, politicized lives simple, and makes us kind, thoughtful. Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson said: “When you look at the night sky, you realize how small we are within the cosmos,” “It’s kind of resetting of your ego. To deny yourself that state of mind, either willingly or unwittingly, is to not live to the full extent of what it is to be human.”

Tips & Trics

Before looking for a dark site, consider what it is you want to see. For many people, getting to a 100% dark sky is not possible without spending an entire day driving. Especially on over-crowded areas, it is hard to find a site where the sky is dark in the direction you want to observe. But keeping a particular direction in mind when finding your spot, will certainly be of great help. For example if you want to see the core of the milky way galaxy, look for a place that is dark to the south with no major cities in that direction.

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Plotting the Path of Light

Plotting the Path of Light: From the burning Ebers of a Camp Fire to the Glow of the Smartphone

And there was Light!
Sunlight has been around since the creation of our planet. Apart from heating the atmosphere, it’s essential in all we do. Allthough we frequently complain about light pollution, we can’t imagine living in complete darkness. ‘Lost in Light‘ – how light pollution affects the nightly sky – was a movie I wrote about earlier. Watch it, it’s amazing!

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Shaped by Light
Have you ever thought about how light shaped human being over time? The short animation film on top of this blogpost helps you to understand the path of light over centuries. From the burning ebers of a campfire towards a lighthouse beacon and the articifial light glow of a smartphone. Join us on this history of light!

This blogpost was inspired by National Geographic. The movie in this post was sourced from Stephen Ong Motion.

Lost in Light – How Light Pollution Affects the Nightly Sky

HOW DOES LIGHT POLLUTION AFFECT THE NIGHTLY SKY AND OUR LIVES?

‘Lost in Light’ is a short film on how light pollution affects the view of the night skies. Shot by Sriram Murali, most shots were taken in California, USA. The movie shows how the view gets progressively better as you move away from the artificial lights.

Finding locations to shoot at every level of light pollution ‘s been quite a challenge for the videographer and getting to the darkest skies with no pollution was a journey on its own.

The night skies remind us of our place in the universe. Imagine if we live under skies full of stars as a tiny part of the cosmos. Imagine kids growing up passionate about astronomy looking for answers.

In reality, most of us live under heavily light polluted skies and some have never even seen the Milky Way. We take the skies for granted and are rather lost in our busy lives without much care for the view of the stars.

Take a moment to ‘break out’ and lose yourself in this wonderful movie!

Source:
Sriram Murali – srirammurali.com

Lighting Up the Night – Fireflies Blazing Beautiful Patterns in the Dark

Remember watching fireflies light up your back yard on hot summer nights? Fireflies are beautiful, mysterious, and magical. Firefly populations are dwindling all over the world. Here’s a small post on these magical creatures – the most efficient lights in the world!

Fireflies Talk: the Language of Light

Fireflies emit light mostly to attract mates, although they also communicate for other reasons as well, such as to defend territory and warn predators away. In some firefly species, only one sex lights up. Howeer, in most situations the both sexes glow. Very often the male will fly, while females will wait in trees and grasses to spot an attractive male. If she finds one, she’ll signal it with a flash of her own.

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Scientists believe they may flash to drive away predators, claim territory, and communicate with others of their species as well—although the finer points of their language have never been studied extensively. One thing’s for sure, though: without those flashing lights, there could be no fireflies.

Fireflies produce “cold light”

Firefly lights are the most efficient lights in the world—100% of the energy is emitted as light. Compare that to an incandescent bulb, which emits 10% of its energy as light and the rest as heat, or a fluorescent bulb, which emits 90% of its energy as light. Because it produces no heat, scientists refer to firefly lights as “cold lights.”

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Fireflies – How does it Work?

In a firefly’s tail, you’ll find two chemicals: luciferase and luciferin. Luciferin is heat resistant, and it glows under the right conditions. Luciferase is an enzyme that triggers light emission. ATP, a chemical within the firefly’s body, converts to energy and initiates the glow. All living things, not just fireflies, contain ATP.

Fireflies have a short ‘Lifespan’

To stay a bit in ‘the language of light’: the lifespan of fireflies isn’t that long as you may expect. Although being very low consumers of energy with a high eficacy, an adult firefly lives only long enough to mate and lay eggs—so they may not need to eat during their adult life stage. The larvae usually live for approximately one year, from mating season to mating season, before becoming adults and giving birth to the next generation.

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Fireflies – what’s more?

There’s certainly many more to say about these intriguing creatures, but let’s finish with a great movie with night and day timelapses and some references. Enjoy!

If you’re interested in the phenomenon of ‘bioluminescence’, I can recommend you reading one of my other posts ‘Bioluminescent Plankton Create Magical Blue Imagery at Night‘.

The stunning time-lapse images in this article were created by photographer and Artist Tsuneaki Hiramatsu for the Daily Mail.