“I am a city dweller and I have no clue how a dark sky looks” – is probably a very common statement among most of the people who work and live in big cities and towns. I myself being from a metropolitan area, have never experienced dark sky or seen the Milky Way until I visited the International Dark Sky Association Dark Sky Park in PA called Cherry Springs State Park. I was stunned to see the Milky Way rise and move across the sky.
The effect on the first time viewer on seeing the dark sky has been portrayed in the photograph above where a person, completely captivated by the beauty of night sky, stood still for a 30s exposure in a impromptu photograph as the person was completely unaware that I was taking a picture.
The night sky when dark is so amazing to view that our Neighboring galaxy becomes visible to our naked eye. The Andromeda a spiral galaxy can be seen very clearly in the night sky when there is no light pollution and there is no moon to pollute the sky. The photograph below shows the Andromeda, which is seen as a bright spot with a haze around it. The haze is the galaxy’s gaseous nebula.
Also there are several nebulas that become visible in the night sky when the sky is dark and the most easily identifiable nebula that can be seen is the Orion Nebula as shown in the picture below. The Orion Nebula can be easily viewed using a telescope or a binocular. The photo below was captured using the Sky Tracker at 600mm telephoto lens on a crop sensor.
The light pollution from cities is so high nowadays and the clouds/smog from the cities seem to exaggerate the light pollution. Clouds tend to sting on to the light that is directly coming from the cities and towns there by vastly reducing the darkness of the sky.
The usual light pollution is visible in the countryside near to a town or a city as a form of light domes towards the horizon. Even in some of the dark sites the light domes are prevalent which shows that we are quickly losing our dark skies as the towns and cities expand and the new establishments crop up in every place. Even though these are helpful and increase and improve the travel experience, it would be wise for these establishments to give heed to protect our Dark Skies that can be seen in remote locations as the Maroon Lake in Colorado.
Light pollution not just prevents us to see the spectacular Milky Way or the Nebulas, it vastly affects the animals which gets distracted to the unnatural light pollution from the cities and towns. Also it prevents us from studying the night sky from some of the observatories such as Griffith, and Mount Wilson, which are greatly affected by the light pollution of Los Angeles.
The International Dark-Sky Association (http://www.darksky.org) is an organization that works hard to create awareness of the Dark Sky among people and the week from April 20th to 26th of 2014 is being celebrated as International Dark Sky Week. We should join hands with them in trying to reduce light pollution and live the dream of gazing at stars from where we live and not drive several miles to get a glimpse of it.