Did you know that that the stars are slowly disappearing from our view? I didn't realize this until yesterday and frankly, I am quite bummed to learn this new bit of information.
I was reading some travel information about the trip we are planning for next summer. One of the activities that I would love, love, love to carry the boys to do is a moonlit hike through Bryce Canyon. Hiking boots are required and flashlights aren't allowed. It is led by a park ranger, nicknamed the "Dark Ranger", who points out constellations that are clearly visible in the Utah sky. I have read that doing this is spectacular and that if you participate....you will never forget it. It seems like a magnificent experience.
While reading about this, I learned that Bryce Canyon is known to still have a "dark sky", which makes for great star viewing. I also learned that "dark skies" are now very uncommon. We, as humans, depend on artificial lighting so much that our night skies are lit up all night long....artificially. All of the exterior house lights and street lights prevent anyone nearby from being able to see the stars clearly. The umbrella of light that is given off by big cities prevents residents for HUNDREDS of miles from seeing the stars.
The photo below shows the difference in the same night sky from a city area and a rural area.
photo courtesy of: http://flickr.com/photos/79297308@N00/1035660145
I learned that only about 20% of the United States can still view the Milky Way. When I read this, the whole dissapearing of the stars became personal. I thought back when I was a child and can clearly remember sitting out by the pond in my field and looking up at the Milky Way. I remember my sister and I discussing that the Milky Way kind of looked like a cloud, instead of stars.
That's when I realized that I couldn't see it anymore. I can't see the Milky Way from the same field I viewed it from as a child. I hadn't thought about it at all in years. I never thought about why I couldn't see it anymore. It never even crossed my mind. We have almost an entire generation of children who have never seen the Milky Way or viewed thousands and thousands of stars.
We are making our stars dissapear.
That makes me sad.