Why can’t you see the stars in cities

It is possible that you have ever noticed that in cities, especially if there are large ones, you hardly see stars and, on the other hand, in the countryside, the mountains or on some beaches they can be seen much better and, in certain areas, in large quantity. It can seem strange and can make us wonder what difference there is between one place and another to be able to see the sky. The truth is that there is a very simple explanation and that is that humans pollute in large quantities and cities are where there are more humans together.

Why in rural areas you can see the stars and in cities you cannot

The phenomenon that causes stars to be seen in rural areas or fields and not, that is, very few, is seen in cities is the excess of concentrated light . That is, in cities there is a much higher concentration of people than in rural areas, so there is light pollution or an amount of light so high that it disturbs the normal functioning of the environment, such as the sky being clear to be able to see the stars, among other consequences much more serious than it may seem at first.

Thus, in the countryside, the mountains, the beach, the sea or any other area that is not overpopulated and that, therefore, remains in general a very natural area, you can see the stars perfectly to the point of being able to reach to see the Milky Way . This makes these areas of the world ideal to go to observe stars with a telescope or even to install professional observatories, so that even the shapes of the stars , distances, planets, etc. can be observed . On the other hand, in cities it is difficult to see the stars well, although not impossible, depending on the degree of light pollution in the city.

To further explain what light pollution is, we can say that this is the scattering of excess light that comes from artificial sources of illumination . This excessive light scattering through the atmosphere causes an artificial glow in the sky that can be there all day, but when it is night it is further increased by contrast. This light or light pollution does not allow that which is beyond a certain distance upwards cannot be seen, including clouds, airplanes, stars, and so on.

In addition, when it is really excessive, the night sky can look like the sunrise even if it is not in that position, that is, in very yellow, orange and even reddish tones. Also, if the lighting is with lights of colder tones, the sky can become pale yellow or whitish when the level of contamination is high.

These happen in large cities and in areas where artificial light or lighting is misused , which in many cases is used excessively in a totally unnecessary way. This not only results in light pollution and visual pollution , but also is a great waste of energy due to excessive consumption of light.

Consequences of light pollution and not being able to see the stars

As we have seen, the pollution produced by excess luminosity has negative effects, such as not allowing the celestial bodies to be seen in the night sky, for example not being able to see the stars , as well as an excessive expenditure of energy. However, the consequences are many more.

For this reason, we detail the main consequences of light pollution that prevents stars from being seen in cities.

  • Loss of energy , so not only is the energy resource wasted but it is also a great economic loss.
  • Greater amount of waste and pollution , since producing the energy that illuminates cities has a very high energy cost and, therefore, large amounts of waste are produced during the production process, contributing to more pollution, affecting the entire planet.
  • It affects nocturnal animals in the area. Nocturnal animals need the darkness of the night and only the clarity provided by the moon in that area to be able to survive in conditions. When seeing the altered luminosity they feel confused, their rhythms are changed to the point of changing breeding seasons or reducing it to a minimum, making them migrate, and so on.
  • Change the biorhythms of all the species in the area, both the nocturnal animals mentioned as well as the diurnal ones, like us, and even the vegetables. This causes that they do not sleep when and how much it corresponds, which leads to fatigue, insomnia, stress, anxiety and other problems that even change hormonal levels, among other negative effects.

At the moment, the only solution to be able to see the stars is to go to areas with little or no light pollution , that is, to go to the field to see them or to the outskirts. Or, if you want to see the stars in the cities, you have to find a place that is not excessively lit, wait until a clear day at night and at a time when most of the business lights and streetlights have not yet been turned on.

On the other hand, as solutions for light pollution we can propose:

  • Use fewer lights at home, work and business. Obviously, if we reduce the lights that are not really essential, we will gain quality of life and take better care of the environment, by reducing energy consumption and the emission of light pollution.
  • Orienting the light points well, both in the homes and businesses themselves and on the streets, something that is the responsibility of the city council of each area.
  • Use motion sensors so that lights come on only when really necessary.
  • Be aware and remember to turn off the lights of appliances or parts of the house that we are not using.
  • That the city councils prohibit the use of lights projected towards the sky.
  • Use light bulbs with lighting of a similar tone to the natural one.
  • That the competent authorities prohibit the use of excessively bright billboards and ensure that the regulations are complied with.

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