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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Garner

What is Light Pollution and How Does It Affect Stargazing?

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

light pollution and a full moon above Vancouver's skyline

Stargazing is a beautiful and exciting experience, but it can be easily diminished by light pollution. The brightness of artificial lighting from cities and towns often overwhelms the stars in the night sky, making them difficult to see and appreciate. But what is light pollution and how does it affect stargazing? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Light Pollution?

sunrises while seeing the milkyway

Light pollution is brightening of the night sky caused by man-made sources like street lights, building exterior lights, car headlights, and other forms of outdoor lighting. This type of lighting obscures our view of the night sky by creating a blanket of brightness that makes it hard to make out individual stars or constellations. While this type of lighting helps us navigate roads and buildings at night, it can significantly reduce our ability to stargaze.

How Does Light Pollution Affect Stargazing?

When we look up into the night sky, we want to be able to clearly see stars and constellations without any interference from artificial light sources. Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly difficult as more cities are built with bright outdoor lighting that washes out the night sky. As a result, many people who live in urban areas have never seen stars in all their glory or have been able to identify constellations on their own. This means that they miss out on one of life’s most majestic experiences—stargazing!

Light pollution also affects wildlife habitats since nocturnal animals rely on darkness for communication cues. Bright nighttime lights disrupt these signals which can lead to confusion among animal populations as well as an increase in energy consumption due to additional lighting needs.

How Bad is Light Pollution?

Light pollution has a significant negative impact on stars and star-gazing around the world. As stars are being overpowered by the illuminations of more and more artificial sources of light, stars become much brighter in our skies and it is playing havoc with the visuals of night sky stars. Unfortunately, this is exacerbated by the rapidly increasing world population which consequently increases sources of artificial light to disturb night sky views from urban areas, showing us just how bad light pollution really is.

More Effects of Light Pollution on Our Environment

milky way over an orange like road

Light pollution is an environmental issue that has become increasingly more problematic over the years. It is defined as excessive and inappropriate artificial lighting that has a detrimental effect on our environment. Not only does light pollution obscure our view of the stars, but it also affects our health, ecosystems, wildlife, and astronomical research. Let’s take a closer look at what effects light pollution has on our planet.

Melatonin Production

Studies have linked light exposure to melatonin production disruption in both humans and animals. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland located in the brain which helps regulate sleep cycles. When we are exposed to bright lights or blue light from devices like smartphones or televisions before bedtime, it suppresses melatonin production which can lead to sleep disturbances such as insomnia and fatigue. This can have serious implications for our overall health and well-being.


Light pollution not only affects us humans but also other living things in nature like plants, birds, insects, and fish. Studies have shown that too much artificial light can disrupt natural rhythms in plants, birds, insects, and fish which can affect their behavior in ways that are potentially detrimental to their survival. For example, some species of sea turtles rely on moonlight reflected off the ocean surface to orient themselves when they hatch from their eggs so they can find their way into the water; artificial lighting near turtle nesting sites can cause disorientation in hatchlings leading them away from water instead of towards it which decreases their chances for survival.

Wildlife Implications

Light pollution also impacts nocturnal animals such as bats who rely on darkness for hunting activities because bright lights confuse them so they cannot hunt effectively; this means fewer resources for these species which could lead to population decline over time if left unchecked. Another example is migratory birds who use stars or moonlight reflected off bodies of water to navigate their migration routes; these birds may become confused by artificial lights causing them to veer off course and possibly get lost during migration season without access to natural sources of light for navigation purposes.


Astronomers rely on dark skies in order to observe stars and galaxies with clarity; however excessive amounts of artificial lighting make it difficult for astronomers to do their work properly due to obscuring views of distant celestial objects making it hard for researchers to conduct meaningful studies about outer space without proper visibility of night sky features like stars or nebulae clusters etcetera.


Light pollution has become an increasing problem over recent years, but there are still steps we can take to reduce its effects while still keeping our homes safe at night. For example, using motion sensors for outdoor lights or investing in low-intensity bulbs will help diminish the amount of light pollution in your area while still providing adequate security at home. With reduced light pollution comes improved visibility when you go stargazing! So invest in sustainable outdoor lighting options today so you can enjoy magnificent starry skies tomorrow!

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