Recently a friend complained that the sky looked pink to her in even at 10 in the night. Reddish sky in the evening is a common phenomenon due to refraction of sunlight, which I can understand. But I couldn’t understand why at late in the night the sky looked pink? I Googled and the results depressed me.
Ours is the first generation of humans where the majority of children cannot routinely see the night sky in all its splendour and glory. The problem is caused by light pollution, where excess or misdirected artificial light alter the natural night sky. In the night sky, light pollution causes an atmospheric phenomenon known as sky-glow. You may have seen overhead clouds at night glowing with strange pink or orange colours. This is wasted light reflecting off the water particles that form clouds or tiny airborne dust and moisture particles.
The sky-glow phenomenon directly affects the scientific research of amateur and professional astronomers. It also affects everyone else who simply enjoys a dark night sky abundant with stars overhead. Scientists say that nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population can no longer see the Milky Way! In Bangalore, on most nights, I stare at the sky and wonder, where did we go wrong?
Image courtesy- Vincent van Gogh
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