Light Polution in Contemporary Urban Life
by Jeffrey Sward

Being able to see the Milky Way was a common occurrence when growing up.  It probably helped that I was located in a semi-rural suburb 12 miles west of Milwaukee.  We were the only housing tract for a few miles and literally across the street from an operating farm.  Light pollution today makes seeing the Milky Way very difficult for urban dwellers.  This same location today is between a freeway and two strip malls.  Even the relatively isolated 200-inch Palomar observatory has had its effectiveness reduced dramatically since 1949. 

Seeing the Milky Way in the 21st century involves light pollution research, travel to a dark location, and waiting for a new moon.  Death Valley, the Mojave Desert and some local mountains make this possible for people in Southern California. 

Not sure what any of this mean in either the relative or absolute sense. 

Milky Way photograph by Jeffrey Sward
Section of the Milky Way, taken at Idyllwild California September 2014.  Result of a digital ilc test.

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