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Planet-Watching, or: Where Have All the Stars Gone?

We’ve entered into a really cool six-month phase where you’ll be able to see five planets at various times during the night (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). Planets shine far brighter than stars, so they are more easily seen. Thank goodness. As many of us hardly see any stars.

Richard Louv, the author of “Last Child in the Woods”, who coined the term “Nature-Deficit Disorder” recently wrote a blog post on “Sky Blindness & Starlight”. “Two-thirds of the U.S. population and more than one-half of the European population may have already lost the ability to see the Milky Way with the naked eye,” he writes.

I would be one of those two-thirds. At least, when I’m at home. Venus & Jupiter are easily visible in the Harford County early-evening sky. As the night progresses though, I count maybe a dozen or so stars. Very different than when I go camping, and the sky is glittered with millions of twinkling stars. Here at home, though, the dome of light from shopping centers, housing developments, highway lighting from I-95 overtake the glitter of stars. I’d like to call a movement to “Turn Off the Lights”!

The Moon, Venus, and Jupiter – Harford County, MD

You can find more info about how to do some planet-watching over the next six months, here at National Geographic

You can read Richard Louv’s article on “Sky Blindness” & how the impact that light at night has on us here on the Children & Nature Network website

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. How far do you suppose I would need to travel from Baltimore to see the Milky Way with the naked eye? Western Maryland? Frederick? Eastern Shore?

    Can I get a show of hands from other people – can you see the Milky Way where you live?

    March 4, 2012
  2. I just saw this on my twitter feed: “Discover the Sky” at Irvine Nature Center, Thursday, March 15, 7:00pm. “The most amazing thing you see all week just might be through a telescope. Bring your friends and family to Irvine to explore and learn about the past, present and future of our night sky, and how it might be changed forever if we don’t care to preserve it.”
    http://www.explorenature.org/index.php?option=com_jevents&task=icalrepeat.detail&evid=2316&Itemid=98&year=2012&month=03&day=15&uid=7d1212ce4819efeccc52e73ca0817f85

    March 4, 2012

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