A world atlas of artificial sky luminance has been developed by a team of researchers. The map details how light pollution is filling the world.
The research led by Fabio Falchi from the Italian Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute (ISTIL) documents the degree to which the world is illuminated by artificial sky glow.
‘More than a third of humans on earth cannot see the Milky Way, including 60% of those living in Europe and 80% of North Americans.’
In addition to being a scourge for astronomers, bright nights also affect nocturnal organisms and the ecosystems in which they live. Falchi explained that unless careful consideration is given to LED color and lighting levels, this transition could, unfortunately, lead to a 2-3 fold increase in skyglow on clear nights.
The atlas documents the world that is in many places awash with light. In Western Europe, only a few small areas remain where the night sky remains relatively unpolluted, including areas in Scotland, Sweden, Norway, and parts of Spain and Austria.
In addition to a world map, the scientists provide tables showing the area of each country and what fractions of its population live under highly light polluted skies. The authors 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.
"The community of scientists who study the night have eagerly anticipated the release of this new Atlas," said Dr. Sibylle Schroer.
The study is published in Science Advances.