I heard today that almost 30% of the world’s population are unable to see the Milky Way – a result of light pollution, I guess, through living in densely populated urban areas. I grew up on a farm, and so we saw the stars on any clear night, learning to pick out the Southern Cross constellation that is on our flag, and how to find due south by the pointer stars.
Once I moved to Wellington and Bangkok, I took less notice of the night sky, but just over seven years ago, I found a renewed delight in the skies over the wide open spaces of the African bush. The Milky Way arched over us, and rangers would stand on their jeeps and use powerful spotlights to point out the various constellations; at Ulusaba we looked through a powerful telescope (I wrote about it here) at galaxies, constellations, and Saturn’s rings.
These days I don’t have the opportunity to look into the African skies, or even the dark southern New Zealand skies very often. But even here in suburban Wellington, we are still lucky enough to be able to look up and see the stars (more so right now, with the longer winter nights).