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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who Will Save the Darkness

Marco Evers writes:

In the era of 24/7 artificial light, real darkness is heard to find. But not only stargazers are affected--light pollution also threatens animals and even entire ecosystems. . . .

People living in Germany no longer react with awe when they happen to look up at the sky on a clear night. Nothing twinkles in the heavens anymore, and most Germans are only familiar with the majestic appearance of the Milky Way from trips abroad. One of the most prominent stars in the night sky at the moment is Aldebaran, a red giant which is the brightest celestial body in the constellation of Taurus. The Andromeda galaxy should also be visible without a telescope. But who notices anymore? City children, who are growing up under a hazy orange night sky, can barely name three celestial bodies anymore: the sun, the moon and possibly Venus, also known as the evening star. For thousands of years, the stars served mankind as a natural navigation system. They were also the inspiration for calendars, stories, legends, myths and religions. The changing night sky was always part of the landscape and at the same time part of culture. But then industrialized society pushed a button, and the firmament was switched off. The 24-hour day had arrived, and the night sky disintegrated like a coral reef destroyed by tourists.

link: The Death of Night: Astronomers and Environmentalists Fight to Save Dark Skies - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International


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