One third of people on Earth, including eighty percent of Americans, cannot see the Milky Way in its cosmic brilliance due to light pollution, according to a new interactive global atlas produced by Italian and American scientists.
Light pollution is one of the most pervasive forms of environmental alteration, scientists say. In most developed countries, the ubiquitous presence of artificial lights creates a luminous fog that swamps the stars and constellations of the night sky.
“We’ve got whole generations of people in the United States who have never seen the Milky Way,” said Chris Elvidge, a scientist with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Boulder, Colorado. “It’s a big part of our connection to the cosmos — and it’s been lost.”