When I first learned the term “light pollution” in school I thought it was strange we gave a name to something so simple. The concept that more streetlights, lights from buildings, lights from cars in an area can drown out natural light seems so obvious. I’m a child of the 90s. I grew up on Saturday morning cartoons sprinkled with commercials and PSAs pushing me not to pollute or litter. Pollution is, in my mind, a dirty word.
Light pollution doesn’t seem dirty, to a kid. 9 year old kids can visualize trash thrown on the side of the road, or baby turtles caught in those plastic loops that hold six packs together. Nine year olds don’t think about how many stars they can see in one place versus another.
It’s the same old sky, right?
Have you ever had the chance to live in a place where you can really see the stars, a place with almost no light pollution? Do you know the rural sky?
It’s not the same old sky.
It’s the sky that will make you believe light pollution is as dirty as it sounds.
In the country, almost every night looks like somebody spilled a bag of diamonds across the endless darkness. The moon seems larger, and every cluster of stars looks like a constellation you’d recognize if you knew anything about constellations.
The rural sky will make you believe in something bigger than yourself. And while you’re trying to figure out if this particular cluster is the big dipper… or if it’s the one just to the left, you’ll understand why we gave such a serious name to something that seems so simple.