The loss of dark skies is so painful, astronomers coined a new term for it

Sep 18, 2023
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What was so mind-blowing about seeing this article is that just yesterday (9/17/2023) evening I was bemoaning this same fact to my 41yo grandson, as I had discovered back in the 1980s while in my 40s that I had actually never really seen the sky and that I tear-up every time I think about it. I went on to say that it was likely that most people on Earth today, other than astronomers, etc., had not either. I mentioned the term "light pollution." I pointed out several of the pictures we are fortunate enough to have and said that it was likely that just a couple of hundred years ago people could simply glance up at night and see it all. The loss is simply incalculable.
 
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Humanity is slowly losing access to the night sky, and astronomers have invented a new term to describe the pain associated with this loss: 'noctalgia,' meaning 'sky grief.'

The loss of dark skies is so painful, astronomers coined a new term for it : Read more
This has been the case for urban viewers for decades. I live about 160 miles from NYC and have had good enough viewing to see comets with the naked eye. Now the fires in Canada have obliterated almost all stars. But, apart from the immediate sense of loss there is another issue that may be even greater. Mankind has been trying to decipher the heavens for eons. In the course of that study, many religions have appeared. All have creation myths that explain the heavens. The presence of the stars has generated wonder for thousands of years and ultimately given birth to our religious beliefs. Without the stars, where does that go?
 
Sep 6, 2022
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I was raised way out in the country where on any clear night you could easily see the rim of our Milky Way from horizon to horizon and even the failest of meteors. My Pops got me into amateur astronomy so we always had at least a basic refactor telescope and decent binoculars. We spent many nights and early mornings outside and it really inspired me as a kid in many ways especially, just using my imagination and thinking about 'what's out there?'

When I moved away at first we were out in a suburb of Memphis and continued to have a reasonably dark sky. I would be out there for every sky event, especially catching every meteor shower. I continued this once I had my first child. She would camp out in the backyard and count shooting stars for the warm month showers. This only lasted until she was around 7 years old as unfortunately, when we were annexed by the city one of the first things they did was line every street around us with big bright street lights. That along with a recently built mall over off the interstate put an end to any stargazing/meteor shower viewing except for the very brightest of objects.

It killed a long tradition in my family. My second child never even had a chance to experience that from our backyard and has no interest at all space/space travel. It's a pity.
 
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There is some good news as more and more are pushing back and getting some local legislation done to mitigate the pollution. The problem is more about the improper use of fixtures that fail to direct the light where intended, downward and outward. Light sent upward, as alluded to by Homer above, is wasted energy.

The McDonald Obs. was able to get Texas legislatures to enact some restrictions for perhaps a 100 mile radius or so around the observatory. My local county has enacted similar restrictions, though much is voluntary. These are dark sky zones.

McDonald Obs., btw, still has the darkest skies for any mainland observatory, yet it could be a lot better.
 
Sep 18, 2023
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Humanity is slowly losing access to the night sky, and astronomers have invented a new term to describe the pain associated with this loss: 'noctalgia,' meaning 'sky grief.'

The loss of dark skies is so painful, astronomers coined a new term for it : Read more
It's good there's been an attempt to name the loss of the night sky.
However, if the aim was noble, the wordage was not.
Noctalgia would actually translate as "Night Pain" (a condition which, I would sincerely hope, few astronomers suffer from).
Sky Grief would be translated as Caelum Dolor, Caelum being the Latin for "Sky" or "Vault of Heaven" and, whilst it has fallen out of use of late, "Dolor" was directly lifted to English as "Pain" and is the root of the adjectival "Dolorous".
Loss of the heavens at night would translate as "nox amissa caeli", a mouthful to be sure.
Loss of night would be better stated as "iactura noctis".
However, No Night gets closer with "nulla nox".
Then there is Bright Night as "clara nocte".
How about Obscure Night as "obscura nocte".
Latin is a tricky language to condense but my pick would be Nullanox as the more accurate statement of the current affliction.
Or perhaps No True Night gives a handy half mouthful as Nullaveranox?
But that's just my duos denarios worth!
 
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Sep 19, 2023
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What's crazy to me is that in losing our ability to see stars and what not, the sky is actually darker.

It's surreal to me to constantly look up at the night sky in my not very big city and just see nothing. No stars, no light, just pure pitch blackness. It makes it feel like a video game.
 
What's crazy to me is that in losing our ability to see stars and what not, the sky is actually darker.

It's surreal to me to constantly look up at the night sky in my not very big city and just see nothing. No stars, no light, just pure pitch blackness. It makes it feel like a video game.
But it's not "pitch black". Lights that shine upward are scatter (reflected) by atmospheric particles. This is why the sky is so bright, though blue light scatters about 9x more than red light, so it's blue.

We only see stars when there is enough contrast between the magnitude of the star and the magnitude (brightness) of the sky. The dimmer stars will get lost in an increasingly brighter and brighter sky.

When pollens, aerosols, pollution, dust, smoke, etc. all contribute to the scattering. I was surprised when I was told at McDonald Obs. that if the particle count is too high, they close the domes.
 
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But it's not "pitch black". Lights that shine upward are scatter (reflected) by atmospheric particles. This is why the sky is so bright, though blue light scatters about 9x more than red light, so it's blue.

We only see stars when there is enough contrast between the magnitude of the star and the magnitude (brightness) of the sky. The dimmer stars will get lost in an increasingly brighter and brighter sky.

When pollens, aerosols, pollution, dust, smoke, etc. all contribute to the scattering. I was surprised when I was told at McDonald Obs. that if the particle count is too high, they close the domes.
It looks absolutely pitch black to me. I don't see any light at all. It looks like a black cloth has been pulled over the sky. Now when I go up north, the sky looks much lighter with all the stars and the Milky Way
 
Sep 19, 2023
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Get some binoculars. Search for the darkest shadow that you can find in your neighborhood. Lay down in that shadow and look up thru binoculars. Can you see some stars?
Certainly that's not the conversation lol Do you think I actually think the stars in the sky have disappeared? I'm saying that living in a city is eerie because there is no illumination from the sky at all. It's just solid black TO THE NAKED EYE like a canvas pulled over the sky
 
OK, pardon me. What city do you live in? I have never seen or heard of a dark city sky. Wait, I take that back. N.K. does have some dark cities. Do you live there perhaps?

I live in Roanoke. It's very bright here. But I can not look at the stars because of clouds, not the light from city. This is a terrible location for stars. There is a light blackout and radio blackout just N of me for the Green Bank Facility. You can easily see it on a night sat image of the US.

Green Bank is mostly radio study. And I can just imagine the noise and interference from all the satellites now. It's not just light problems, but radio too. Far side moon is the only quiet and dark place left.
 
It looks absolutely pitch black to me. I don't see any light at all. It looks like a black cloth has been pulled over the sky. Now when I go up north, the sky looks much lighter with all the stars and the Milky Way
How curious. You could, if you're interested, take some timed exposures of the sky with a camera and compare them to exposures, of equal times, of the skies in the north.

I will be stunned if the northern skies are seen as less dark.

Also, I assume you are letting your eyes adjust to the dark. It takes several minutes for your eyes to dilate in darkness, though total dilation time is about 30 minutes, IIRC. If one leaves a bright room and then steps outside, the skies will definitely appear darker without adaption time.
 
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How curious. You could, if you're interested, take some timed exposures of the sky with a camera and compare them to exposures, of equal times, of the skies in the north.

I will be stunned if the northern skies are seen as less dark.

Also, I assume you are letting your eyes adjust to the dark. It takes several minutes for your eyes to dilate in darkness, though total dilation time is about 30 minutes, IIRC. If one leaves a bright room and then steps outside, the skies will definitely appear darker without adaption time.
No, I'm not letting my eyes adjust to the dark while driving or walking around my city. I'm telling you, as I walk through life normally and use my bare senses, the night sky looks black with no features in Madison, WI in comparison to Ashland, WI, in which the night sky is alive with lights and colors
 
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OK, pardon me. What city do you live in? I have never seen or heard of a dark city sky. Wait, I take that back. N.K. does have some dark cities. Do you live there perhaps?

I live in Roanoke. It's very bright here. But I can not look at the stars because of clouds, not the light from city. This is a terrible location for stars. There is a light blackout and radio blackout just N of me for the Green Bank Facility. You can easily see it on a night sat image of the US.

Green Bank is mostly radio study. And I can just imagine the noise and interference from all the satellites now. It's not just light problems, but radio too. Far side moon is the only quiet and dark place left.
I live in Madison, WI. I was driving home yesterday after picking up some late night McDonald's and found it so surreal and disorienting that the sky just looks uniformly black. Like it's not even a real sky.
 
Sep 14, 2023
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Humanity is slowly losing access to the night sky, and astronomers have invented a new term to describe the pain associated with this loss: 'noctalgia,' meaning 'sky grief.'

The loss of dark skies is so painful, astronomers coined a new term for it : Read more
It is so very devastating to me that I must look outside my window and instead of seeing darkness dotted with stars, I see polluted yellow light along the horizon and clouding my view. I don't even live in a city - I'm in a town. The best place for me to stargaze is in my friend's farm field - she lives in a small village, and the view at night from her field is like nothing else. I will always feel noctalgic when I try and spot a planet in the evening and all I see is pollution.
 
No, I'm not letting my eyes adjust to the dark while driving or walking around my city. I'm telling you, as I walk through life normally and use my bare senses, the night sky looks black with no features in Madison, WI in comparison to Ashland, WI, in which the night sky is alive with lights and colors
Ok. I'm guessing you are exposed to normal street lighting, or worse, while walking. That will not allow your eyes to become "dark adaptive". The dim stars above will be lost, and all would look black. Also, the camera imaging won't work for the same reason.

Currently, the Moon sets early, though its approaching first quarter. Saturn is about all that might be seen if you looked at it closely. Jupiter is very bright, however, it doesn't rise until after midnight. So, I'm not surprised you don't notice anything up there.

There is a story, perhaps true, that pirates had patches over one eye so that this eye would be dark adapted and they when they would "go below" into the dark rooms, they would flip their patch up, and be able to see, with the dark adaptive eye , what they were up against.
 
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What's crazy to me is that in losing our ability to see stars and what not, the sky is actually darker.

It's surreal to me to constantly look up at the night sky in my not very big city and just see nothing. No stars, no light, just pure pitch blackness. It makes it feel like a video game.
Of course what you're seeing is not pitch-black at all. More like a muddy dark gray. Pitch black is what you see behind the stars, when you can see the stars.