Friday, February 17, 2012

The Globe at Night project

Light pollution is defined simply by the glow of artificial lights that get scattered at night and block the natural light of stars and other celestial objects, blocking our views of the sky. It seems that recent studies show that it also can have serious health implications. In a nutshell, our bodies are "fooled" into thinking it's still day light and the production of melatonin - a hormone that regulates our awake/sleep cycles - and this can have an influence on bad sleep patterns, but more dangerously, low melatonin is linked with a higher risk of breast cancer.

“Light at night is now clearly a risk factor for breast cancer. (...) Breast tumors are awake during the day, and melatonin puts them to sleep at night.”
David Blask, researcher at the Cooperstown, New York-based Mary Imogene Bassett Research Institute.

To reduce the risks specialists recommend a good night of sleep with all light sources blocked, both from outside and inside. This means shades closed, TVs and monitors off, lamps, and everything else that's lit enough to be a substitute for daylight. 

The light bill for all of this night town lights is huge. Estimates show 1.5 billion dollars of wasted energy worldwide and more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide produced. In a world running mostly on oil and looking for alternative energy sources, this is completely unacceptable. 

The Globe at Night project is a project that aims at measuring light pollution all over the planet, and it relies on common people to input their observations. It's as simple as going out for some minutes at night and looking for the Orion constellation, and comparing your observations to the examples given in the website to measure which magnitude stars can be seen from your location. Head over to their website and give your contribution.


  1. I really miss being able to see the stars in the sky.

  2. I didn't know about the Globe At Night project.
    The cities I frequent have a lot of light pollution which is really sad. And people who don't have a legit reason for observing Earth Hour DGMH (Don't Give Me Hope :P)
    I wanna see the Orion constellation and other stars with my naked eyes but I rarely get the chance because of living in light pollution-ed cities :(

  3. I had never heard that light at night had been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer before. Alaska has it rough