It’s 2016, High Time I Finally Saw the Milky Way

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Brad Plumer writes about the disappearing Milky Way:

Most of us living in urban areas can’t see it because of all the light pollution. In big cities, we’re lucky to even glimpse the Big Dipper. It’s becoming harder and harder to pick out our place in the universe.

How hard is it? In a new study for Science Advances, an international team of researchers created the most detailed atlas yet of light pollution around the world. They estimate that the Milky Way is no longer visible to fully one-third of humanity — including 60 percent of Europeans and 80 percent of Americans. Artificial light from cities has created a permanent “skyglow” at night, obscuring our view of the stars.

Someday I would like to see the Milky Way. I never have—not that I recall, anyway. I’ve spent my entire life in the suburbs, and travel and vacations have never taken me anyplace dark enough to see it.

So where do I have to go? The light map below shows the few places left in America where you can get a good look at the Milky Way. If you’re east of the Rockies you can pretty much forget it. If you live in Southern California, like me, the closest place looks to be Death Valley or thereabouts. That’s not so bad. According to Google Maps, if I drive across the border into Beatty, Nevada, I can stay at the Atomic Inn and eat at Mel’s Diner. September 1-4 looks like it might be good. Perhaps this is something I should finally do this year.

THIS IS BIG FOR US.

And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please consider joining your fellow readers with a donation to help make it all possible. Whether you can pitch in $5 or $500, it all matters.

If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

payment methods

THIS IS BIG FOR US.

And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please consider joining your fellow readers with a donation to help make it all possible. Whether you can pitch in $5 or $500, it all matters.

If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate