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How good is your view of the night sky?

Do you ever look up into the night sky from your back yard and wonder in awe at the vastness of our universe?


Do you see some constellations and planets?


Have you ever seen the silvery cloud of the Milky Way Core, or the dusty patches of sky known as the Magellanic Clouds?


Did you know you could see those with the naked eye?


Well if you have ever wondered if you could see even more celestial objects you don't need to spend thousands on a telescope, you may just need to hop oil the car for 20mins.




What is the Bortle Scale?


The Dark Sky Scale (commonly referred to as the Bortle Scale) is a measure of the brightness of the night sky caused by light pollution, and how easy it is to spot objects in the night sky.


Simply put; the brighter the night sky, the harder it is to see stars, planets and so on.


The Bortle Scale runs from 1 to 9 with 1 being the darkest skies with the best views of the universe, and 9 being the most light pollution and only the brightest stars and planets visible.



Dark Sky Locations around Western Australia


Now we do have some incredible dark sky sites around WA, but as you will see from the link below we still need to travel pretty far before we can find truly dark locations. Unfortunately the light from towns and mines travels pretty far; 50-60km for the naked eye and hundreds of km in a long exposure on a camera.


You can explore the dark sky locations for yourself at https://www.lightpollutionmap.info


All the following images are from Light Pollution Map





As you can see if you are travelling from Perth, Mandurah or Bunbury you still need to travel pretty far to get the best view of the night sky.


Here is a view from just north of Pinjarra showing the light pollution to the west form Mandurah and Rockingham.



The worst light polluters


It is pretty clear from the light pollution map that urban areas are not the only source of excess light. Even way out in the outback, places you would expect to be perfectly clear actually have some of the highest Bortle numbers. Take Karijini for example; the iron ore mining in the area produces incredible amounts of light pollution.



What is the harm caused by light pollution?


Other than loosing our cultural connection to the night sky, harmful side affects of excess artificial light include;

  • disturbing bird migrations

  • distributing turtle nesting

  • disruption to our circadian rhythms

  • migraines

  • and so, so much more...


To think that we are all paying for all the execricity to create all that light that is shining out into space.


Dark Sky International estimates that "least 30 percent of all outdoor lighting in the U.S. alone is wasted, mostly by lights that aren’t shielded. That adds up to $3.3 billion and the release of 21 million tons of carbon dioxide per year! To offset all that carbon dioxide, we’d have to plant 875 million trees annually."


Imagine if we could save that money, energy and carbon and in turn preserve out view of the night sky for generations to come...


If you have learned something from this blog post why share it with a friend.



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