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Atlantic Documentaries

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Jan 22, 2015 | 103 videos
Video by The Atlantic

Can you see the stars at night? Only a few centuries ago, the Milky Way was visible from almost anywhere in America. Today, more than 99 percent of the population in the continental U.S. live in light-polluted areas. It's impossible to see the Milky Way in more than two-thirds of the country.

While it's unclear exactly how this change affects our culture and health, scientists are beginning to take notice of the disappearing night sky. The International Dark Sky Association works to reverse light pollution by studying the ways we light our streets and cities. Major metropolitan areas in Los Angeles and New York City are already transitioning to LEDs, which have the potential to greatly reduce the amount of light pollution in the sky. Maybe, just maybe, there's hope for our stars.

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Authors: Sam Price-Waldman, Paul Rosenfeld, Katherine Wells

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