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Sat, 11 Jun 2016

New light pollution atlas

Map of the light pollution over Europe from the new atlas

A new world atlas of light pollution has been produced by an international team of scientists using data from a US weather satellite. The team say that about 83% of the world’s population and more than 99% of the US and European populations live under light-polluted skies. Due to light pollution, the Milky Way is not visible to more than one-third of humanity, including 60% of Europeans and nearly 80% of North Americans.

Data from the satellite shows upward light brightness, and the team corrected this for sideways light spill and data from sky-brightness meters on the ground. But they warn that the satellite is not sensitive to blue light, whereas an increasing amount of light pollution is now due to blue-rich LED lights. They predict that a change to LED lighting will more than double light pollution.

The map of the UK shows that only the far north-west of Scotland and parts of the Western Isles have skies that can be considered pristine. All of our Dark Sky Parks, such as Galloway, Kielder and Exmoor, are shown as having skies that are not astronomically dark. Much of the UK is an area where even the summer Milky Way is barely visible, if at all.

You can view the full technical paper and see the detailed illustrations at


Added by: Robin Scagell