An illustration showing the impact of light pollution. Image Credit: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA, P. Marenfeld.

Future Generations Will See Fewer Stars in the Sky Due to Light Pollution

A child born in a place where 250 stars can be seen in the night sky today will only be able to see 100 stars when the child turns 18.


People around the world see fewer and fewer stars in the night sky. The change in the visibility of the stars can be explained by an increase in the brightness of the sky of 7-10% per year. This is a worrying statistic since future generations will hardly know what stars in the night sky look like at the pace we are moving forward. Even more worrying is that the rate of light pollution is changing faster than suggested by satellite measurements of artificial light emissions on Earth. This was the conclusion reached by a group of astronomers in their paper published in Science. The study was led by Christopher Kyba, from the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences and the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, with colleagues from the GFZ and the NOIRLab of the NSF (National Science Foundation) in the United States.


How do they know?

A graph showing how bad light pollution is. Image Credit: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA, P. Marenfeld.
A graph showing how bad light pollution is. Image Credit: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA, P. Marenfeld.

The researchers came to this conclusion thanks to more than 50,000 naked-eye observations made by citizen scientists around the world between 2011 and 2022 as part of the “Globe at Night” citizen science project. The results show that citizen science data is an important complement to previous measurement methods. We know for a fact that over much of the Earth’s surface, the sky continues to glow with artificial twilight long after sunset. In fact, there are only so few places left where light pollution does not affect observations of the night sky or astrophotography. This “sky glow” is a form of light pollution that has severe effects on the environment and therefore needs to be investigated with greater detail.


What it means

“The rate at which stars are becoming invisible to people in urban environments is dramatic,” summarizes Christopher Kyba, lead author of the study. But people are probably unaware of what this means and how great the impact is. If this development continues at this rate, a child born in a place where 250 stars can be seen will only be able to see 100 stars there when he turns 18, the researchers explained.

Have something to add? Visit Curiosmos on Facebook. Join the discussion in our mobile Telegram group. Also, follow us on Google News.

Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

Write for us

We’re always looking for new guest authors and we welcome individual bloggers to contribute high-quality guest posts.

Get In Touch