Research suggests if trend continues, view of Orion’s belt will disappear due to glow from artificial lighting. From a report: “There is no light in earth or heaven / But the cold light of stars,” wrote the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. But for myriad writers and artists, that source of inspiration could be fading as research has revealed light pollution is rapidly reducing the number of stars visible to the naked eye. The study, published in the journal Science, suggests locations with 250 visible stars at present will have just 100 visible stars in 18 years.
“If these trends continue, eventually it will be very difficult to see anything at all in the sky, even the brightest constellations. Orion’s belt will start to disappear at some point,” said Dr Christopher Kyba, of the German Research Centre for Geoscience and first author of the research. The team write that the glow produced by artificial lighting grew exponentially over the 20th century with population growth, new technologies, and expansion of towns and cities. However the impact of a shift to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in recent years is unclear. Satellites that can measure skyglow have limited resolution and cannot detect some wavelengths of light emitted by LEDs.