Eighty percent of Americans can’t see the Milky Way from where they live, according to a new analysis of light pollution’s effect on the night sky. The global dark sky atlas, produced by an international team of researchers, suggests there’s only one spot in Washington state that’s untouched by the effect of artificial light.
“I hope that this atlas will finally open the eyes of people to light pollution,” Fabio Falchi of Italy’s Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute said in a news release. Falchi is the lead author of the analysis, published today by Science Advances.
The atlas is based on readings from the Suomi NPP satellite, which was launched in 2011 and is managed by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Suomi’s main purpose is to provide weather data, but it’s equipped with imagers that can pick up low-light readings at night.