I've already written a lot about street lights and the adverse effect they have on our lives. I've even published a video to demonstrate that they actually reduce road safety instead of increasing it and that they make life a lot easier for burglars. Recent studies have also demonstrated a direct link between street lights and cancer! In spite of all this, tax payers around the world are still willing to cough up billions of €/$ to keep them burning.
But so far I haven't mentioned the biggest damage they cause to our planet yet, and with good reason too because most people couldn't be bothered less. I'm referring to the devastating effect street lights have on the greatest spectacle of our planet, the greatest work of art that any man has ever beheld: the night's sky.
Most people have never really looked up. They're so busy with their own little lives, making as much money as possible, gathering a million likes on Facebook and commenting on the painfully stupid but yet incredibly important cows in the reality shows, that they seem to forget that their lives actually mean nothing at all. What is Earth anyway? A planet so insignificantly small that it would already completely disappear in the Sun's glow to an observer on Uranus. And our Sun's such an amazingly insignificant little star that it would not be visible to the naked eye anymore from a distance of merely 50 lightyears. That's hardly the doorstep to our backyard!
Only those fortunate enough to have visited one of the ever rarer really dark places on Earth, a remote desert for example, realise what we've been missing over the last 60 years. Take a plane to Arizona, Namibia, the Sahara or Central Australia and you'll know what I'm talking about. It would be a useful lesson in humbleness that all of us should take. Just look at that incredible blanket of millions of stars and our Milky Way that shines down upon you like a bright string of clouds from horizon to horizon and you'll know that I was right.
To show you the damage street lights have caused to our night's sky, I'm proud to present the work of Martijn, a Dutch astronomy friend and a highly talented artist. He made this series of 4 sketches of the Andromeda galaxy, the closest galaxy to our own, from 4 different locations. The first from his home town and a full Moon, the second from his home town without Moon, the third from a nearby somewhat darker location and the last from a place that we astronomers call "decent" (but far from perfect). What a difference, isn't it? Isn't it about time we switch those useless light off?