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The Bright Star boy travelling
Illustration by Leigh McNeil-Taboika, 13, for Ella Jane Lombard's story "Bright Star," from Stone Soup's Nov/Dec 2011 issue

Stars have long been an important part of human culture and science, from astronomy to fiction to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." However, one-third of humanity may never be able to see the cosmos, according to certain studies.

On June 10, 2016, Italian and American scientists published a global atlas on light pollution. According to the report, one-third of humanity, including 80% of Americans, will never be able to see the Milky Way! (Gasp!)
According to the online global atlas, most of the major cities in the U.S.A., Europe and the southeastern part of Asia are affected by this problem.

Light pollution is a little-known environmental issue caused by artificial lights in developed countries that swamp the night sky with a luminous fog, covering the many beautiful constellations and stars that many kids hope to see. (You can’t exactly wish upon a shooting star to see them either, ‘cause they’re covered too.) And not only we are affected. Unnatural light confuses and exposes wild animals such as insects, birds and sea turtles, often with fatal consequences. Moths keep swarming the porch light, night birds can’t navigate properly, and the poor sea turtles are misled by all those bright bulbs you put at your beach houses.

Of course, we caused all this, so we reap what we sow. But if we don’t stop this, soon nobody will ever see the stars again. So take a few simple steps to reduce light pollution and spread awareness about this problem. Turn off the lights when you’re not using them. Shield your garden lights to the immediate area, reducing the amount of light to the minimum needed. You don’t need to light up your whole house with a ridiculous amount of bulbs—even if you are afraid of the dark. Talk about this with your local town committee. Host fund raisers. And just wish upon a star.

Thee Sim Ling, age 12

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