The Milky Way over Dinosaur National Park. Credit: Photo by Dan Duriscoe
The Milky Way over Dinosaur National Park. Dan Duriscoe—AAS

One-Third of the World's Population Can't See the Milky Way Thanks to Light Pollution

Jun 10, 2016

Light pollution prevents a third of the world's population from seeing the Milky Way from their homes, according to new research.

Researchers behind the study, published in the journal Science Advances, found that 60% of Europeans and nearly 80% of North Americans cannot see the Milky Way.

Light pollution, most common in densely populated urban areas, is the result of the artificial light humans create to illuminate roads, buildings and neighborhoods. Nearly everyone who lives in the U.S. and Europe experiences some level of light pollution.

North America in New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness, as seen in Google Earth. Fabio Falchi et al.—AAASNorth America in New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness, as seen in Google Earth. Fabio Falchi et al.—AAAS 

Researchers are still working to understand the implications of light pollution for humans. Researchers say it may affect the human ability to see at night in normal conditions.

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