Friends have recently been posting an image of an aerial view of the world at night on Facebook. It shows the viewer essentially who has more electrical power to light up the night. The eastern half of the United States is one of the brightest sections while the continent of Africa is one of the darkest. One also notices that even the United States has a blackened portion, found in the West, specifically the northern part of Nevada at Great Basin National Park. It is considered one of the best places to view the night sky. I have been witness to this truth. At first I felt apprehension on a night hike in the darkness but the feeling was quickly replaced by wonder when I looked upward to see the true nightlights – trillions of stars (Is trillion correct or even close? The number of stars appeared to exceed eternal). I had never before seen the Milky Way reach from one end of the sky to the other. On clear nights in Milwaukee, I have been happy to see Orion, the Big Dipper, the North Star, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon and a handful of other constellations and planets – my regular guides on walks with my dog.
It made me think, what if cities would have “Star nights?” Nights when all the city lights would go off so that everyone could see the Milky Way and the night sky as it was meant to be seen. Granted, this would not be the safest thing to do especially in an urban setting. We would have to leave stoplights on to prevent accidents and in some sections of cities, streetlights would have to stay on to prevent or at least deter crime. I am daydreaming here…or night dreaming. But I wish on a shooting star it would come true from time to time.
Image from the Great Basin National Park website: http://www.nps.gov/grba/naturescience/lightscape.htm