Only one third Americans can see the Milky Way from their backyards because of light pollution.
99 percent of the world's skies are polluted with light, which is why many people around the world alongside two-thirds of Americans are unable to see night sky from their backyards.
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A new study published in Journal Park Science suggests that national parks especially those far from urban areas, are one of the last places to view dark and star-spangled nighttime skies.
Night sky is disappearing these days mainly because of light pollution. Excessive artificial lights are reducing the brightness of the stars and making human eye unadaptable to natural darkness.
National parks were initially visited to see scenery and sublime landscapes. But now, night sky has become a “new” park resource and a huge number of people are visiting parks to see natural darkness that is not reduced by artificial lights.
A survey was conducted by researchers from University of Vermont. They asked visitors of Acadia National Park in Maine to fill out a questionnaire in which a vast majority of visitors admitted that “night sky viewing is important, the National Park Service should protect opportunities for visitors to see the night sky and should conduct more programs to encourage visitors to view the night sky.”
Visitors were also asked questions regarding the quality of night viewing. Most of them had not seen the celestial objects mentioned in the questionnaire. But whenever they did, it increased the quality of their experience.
“There is a growing consciousness in the U.S. about the disappearance of naturally dark skies that is kind of paradoxical.” Bob Manning, the leader of the project told Los Angeles Times.
The importance of night skies is reflected in the policy and management of the National Park Service but, there is always room for improvement and they require more explicit management in the national parks. The survey suggests that they need to monitor the brightness of celestial objects and the amount of light pollution. They also need to take some actions for controlling light pollution in and around national parks. However, controlling light pollution will be challenging. The National Park Service can adopt best lighting practices to minimize light pollution within national parks. But controlling light pollution outside park boundaries will require a proactive approach of working with surrounding communities.
“The (park service) doesn’t have absolute control over what is going on outside the park but it can exert a lot of influence,” said Manning. “Especially if there is tourism associated with night skies.”
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