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Astronomy Tutorial

Can you (still) see the stars?

We have large and bright cities. We have tall skyscrapers, well lit malls and parking lots, well illuminated streets and freeways. Downtown, it feels like daylight after sunset. Is this good or bad? Well, I think it's a matter of preference.
Our cities bring us comfort, convenience... But we live in a different world compared to the one that our ancestors used to live. They were telling stories around the fire. We play video games and IM our friends. They were watching the stars and were listening to the sounds of nature (the wind running through the forest, the rain falling on the ground or the waves crashing in a rhythmic way). We watch TV and our favorite shows. And, yes, we have spatial telescopes and (still) a space program.
So, if you are a city dweller, the chances are that you're not enjoying the nature on daily basis, the same way as your ancestors. It's possible that you can still see a washed up sky with a few stars. You're probably robbed of the beautiful stargazing experience which is still possible if you go camping or spend some nights in rural places.

Summer Sky Summer Sky


Even if you live in a city, it's possible that you can still see bright stars and recognize a few constellations like Ursa Major or Orion. Can you do that?
Even so, if you go to a place shielded from direct light exposure, you may see more stars. Can you tell the difference? Further, you can look at the sky with binoculars and you'll see way more stars... And I even haven't said that word associated with astronomy (named telescope).

All this surrounding light that prevents us to see the stars (in the same way as our ancestors) is named by astronomers "light pollution". I may come back and talk more about light pollution and why a lot of energy is wasted for no good reason - but an important lesson is just to enjoy what we have... Our sun, moon and some bright planets are still visible almost everywhere. And if we go camping, we can be prepared, bring binoculars and enjoy the trip to its full potential.

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