A research team led by Fabio Falchi from the Italian Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute (ISTIL) has created a world atlas of artificial sky luminance, which details how light pollution is filling our world. ISTIL documents the degree to which the world is illuminated by artificial sky glow.
In addition to being a scourge for astronomers, bright nights also affect nocturnal organisms and the ecosystems in which they live.
Falchi explained that unless careful consideration is given to LED colour and lighting levels, this transition could, unfortunately, lead to a 2-3 fold increase in sky-glow on clear nights.
The atlas documents a world that is in many places awash with light. In Western Europe, only a few small areas remain where the night sky remains relatively unpolluted, including areas in Scotland, Sweden, Norway, and parts of Spain and Austria.
In addition to a world map, the scientists provide tables showing the area of each country and what fractions of its population live under highly light-polluted skies. The authors specifically examined the G20 countries, finding that in terms of area, Italy and South Korea are the most polluted, and Canada and Australia the least.
Residents of India and Germany are most likely to be able to see the Milky Way from their home, while those in Saudi Arabia and South Korea are least likely.
"The community of scientists who study the night have eagerly anticipated the release of this new Atlas," said Dr. Sibylle Schroer.
The study is published in Science Advances.