People think they know darkness, and that they experience darkness everyday, but they don’t, really.
Across the United States, natural darkness is an endangered resource. East of the Mississippi, it is already extinct; even in the West, night sky connoisseurs admit that it’s quicker to find true darkness by flying to Alice Springs, Australia, than traveling to anywhere in the lower forty-eight.
Ever since the nation’s first electric streetlight made its debut in Cleveland, on April 29, 1879, the American night has become steadily brighter. In his new book, The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light, Paul Bogard aims to draw attention to the naturally dark night as a landscape in its own right — a separate, incredibly valuable environmental condition that we overlook and destroy at our own peril.
Magnificent Milky Way Glows Over Machu Picchu
The glowing arc of the Milky Way points to the great ruins of the Incan Empire, Machu Picchu, in this vivid night sky image.
Thomas O’Brien took this photo in early July 2013 from the summit of Putucusi Mountain, which is located across the Urubamba River Valley from the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, Peru. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the dark, saddle-shaped area between mountains on the right side of the image where the arc of the Milky Way intersects with the horizon.
The Milky Way, our own galaxy containing the solar system, is a barred spiral galaxy with roughly 400 billion stars. The stars, along with gas and dust, appear like a band of light in the sky from Earth. The galaxy stretches between 100,000 to 120,000 light-years in diameter.