Science & Space

Why Stars Are Disappearing Before Our Eyes?

According to the NSF's NORILab Citizen Science Program - the stars are disappearing at a staggering rate because of human-made light pollution, which is being created by only humans due to excessive use of light during the night. The data for this study came from - sourced observations collected from around the world as part of the "Globe at Night" program, which is run by the National Science Foundation's NOIRLab and was developed by NARO astronomer Connie Walker.

People all over the world are living under artificial light, which is causing problems for humans as well as wildlife and the environment. Human inventions are making living east for humans but it is also causing problems for wild animals as well. The contribution of human beings to world pollution is nearly 100% because we, humans, have increased the use of fossil fuel in the last two decades, miraclisouly, without considering the consequences. 

We, humans, are filling our water bodies with plastic, our land with electronic and electrical junks, and the sky with funes and artificial lights. Light pollution is becoming a worldwide headache for the world. The impact of light pollution was witnessed for the first time, when the World Atlas Published Photos of the Night sky brightness map in 2016. 

North America, the Middle East, Asia, and entire Europe glow brightly during the night most, while the most remote regions of the earth like Pamir, Siberia, and Amazon remain dark during the night because human activity in those regions is almost negligible and the remaining living population are also moving towards the cities for reliable work. 

The stars are supposed to be visible without the use of any visual aid; however, light pollution is robbing more than 30% of the global population and 80% of the American population of their night sky view.

A paper published in Science Journal also highlighted the same problem and according to the team, the situation is getting worse in reality.

That is why, in front of our eyes, the glaring area of our Milky Way to glittering Polaris and millions of other stars are vanishing from the night sky. Moreover, the loss of visibility of stars will affect Human culture miserably. The stars used to be the path bearer of different civilizations. Civilizations used stars to construct magnificent architectural structures and sculptures, and they even used stars for navigation during trade with other civilizations at the time. Civilizations' food habits and attire were even influenced by the presence of stars during particular years or particular months. Artificial lighting will even affect the lives of the indigenous people of the Amazon, Australia, Africa, and India in a very negative way because they are still following the culture of their ancestors which is very old in nature and based on stars' presence. 

Globe At Night 

Globe at night has been collecting data on the night sky since 2006. Their data of shows how night glows are changing since 2006 because of heavy industrialization and modernization. The night sky is getting brighter and brighter every year. 

Anyone around the world can submit their own observation through the Globe Nigh Web Application using phones, desktops, and tablets, which is quite easy. After collecting the entire year's data, the globe night team makes their own picture without using a telescope to finally submit the data in their application. At the year's end, they publish the data based on their own assessment which has been submitted by people around the world.

This produces a picture of the night sky known as the naked eye limiting magnitude, which measures the brightness of objects in the night sky. The data also use to estimate the brightness of skyglow, because as brightness increases, the object becomes fainter in front of the human eye. 

The author of the research paper analyzed more than 50,000 observations submitted to Globe at night between 2011 and 2022, they mainly focused on data collected from North and South America due to the presence of multiple observing stations in this region. According to the research paper, the light is being brightened in developing countries rather than in developed countries because developing countries are moving towards the developed world and their annual consumption of different kinds of goods are also increasing. 

The globe at night data also indicated that the brightness of the sky is increasing at a rate of 9.6% over the past decade. This is much greater that the 2% per year global increase in surface brightness measured by satellites. This also suggests that there aren't enough satellites to accurately measure the brightness of light at night and the surface of the earth. The global at night also indicates the essentiality of measuring the earth's brightness in the context of environmental and wildlife impact. 

Animals got lost and confused due to artificial light 

It impacts animal behavior, migration patterns of birds, the sleeping habits of all living creatures, and food habits. The most suitable example is, Sea turtles and Migrating Birds; Sea Turtles and birds are guided by Moonlight but they often get confused due to artificial lightning. 

Large numbers of insects are also being drawn towards the artificial light source that impacts birds' food habits and insects' living patter. The artificial lights eliminate light-sensitive animals which is why a new environmental initiative, "Light Out", has been adopted by people to reduce its impact on wildlife creatures. 

A study shows that Blackbirds in Germany are getting active earlier due to traffic noise and artificial lightning caused by dwellers, in comparison to the other birds in that region, walking and singing up to 5 hours earlier. 

And oil rigs on shores disturb turtles, fish, and other marine lives because of oil-related pollution and artificial light. Even places that are well-protected and far from cities, such as national parks, are being impacted by artificial lightning. 

So, In order to keep our sky alive, we need to reduce pollution of every kind and move away from fossil fuel to green hydrogen, which will make the world a truly good place to live and the sky a good constant movie to watch.