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Think it’s getting harder to see the stars above your home? Now, you can check whether the night sky is getting brighter on a new website that displays changes in nighttime illumination across Earth since 1992.

The Radiance Light Trends website, launched today, is the brainchild of physicist Christopher Kyba of the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam. For years, Kyba has been analyzing data collected by satellites that peer down at the planet, measuring the glow from street lamps, neon signs, and other forms of night lighting. But traditionally, it has taken up to a day to download, polish, and comb through the numbers.

On the new site, which is updated constantly, users can select areas of up to 5000 square kilometers anywhere on the globe and, in just seconds, produce a graph of nighttime radiance over any period in the past 25 years. Select parts of Puerto Rico, for instance, and you’ll see how Hurricane Maria knock out the island’s power grid in 2017. Or pick a rapidly growing city in Africa or Asia and witness how urban sprawl is brightening the night sky.

This light pollution problem goes far beyond its effects on human psychology and physiology. It is now being implicated in species die-offs. To read more, click here.


Category: Science