Archives: Seasons 1-5
Web Feature | Environment

Starlight, Starbright...

Note: Click on the square at the lower right corner to enjoy the slideshow full screen.

The night sky has been the stuff of myth and legend since ancient times. Our earliest ancestors used the stars as a calendar, a source of navigation, a guide to planting — and star-gazing might well have been the first form of nighttime entertainment.

What is the source of our fascination? Perhaps it is because the stars are so mysterious that we can assign them any meaning we want. You can wish upon a star, follow your star, or gaze upon a star; even the great Leonardo da Vinci once wrote “Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.”

Robert Frost wrote fancifully of fixing your dream on the stars in his poem about the constellation Canis Major:

I'm a poor underdog,
But tonight I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.

Light pollution has already changed the experience of star-gazing for children in the 21st century: for 9 of 10 Americans the sky is so bright they effectively live in perpetual moonlight; for 8 of 10 the night sky never gets darker than the end of twilight, and 2 out of 3 Americans can no longer see the Milky Way.

There are still places to view the sky in total darkness, although in Southern California they are vanishing especially fast. Thankfully for those of us who can’t get to these dark sky locations, a dedicated group of astrophotographers is preserving the night sky. The slideshow above shares spectacular images from some of these acclaimed professionals, as well as a few amateurs.

Wally Pacholka's Photos
Dennis Mammana's Photos
The World At Night (TWAN)
Study on Light Pollution
Night Sky Image

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It is a reasonable and worthy goal to bring starlight back over the cities and the Milky Way in all its splendor to within a 1hour's drive of every person. If we each did a little bit of activism at least on a local level and paid attention to the lighting we choose over our homes and businesses we will make a difference.


Kudos to the efforts and photographic talents of Wally and others who help us realize the cosmic splendor that is all around us. These photographs are sources of inspiration for each of us to do something to bring starlight back for all, including future generations.

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