We can not longer see the night sky

These two Latin American countries are part of the highest light polluted nations  Know who they are

We can not longer see the night sky

Nowadays, many types of pollution attract the attention of the world population, since it is essential to know these polluting sources in order to do something about it. One of these forms is light pollution, which affects most areas inhabited by man.

Leer en español: La luz artificial ya no deja ver el cielo nocturno

In 2016, Business Insider published an article about the most polluted countries in the world. The publication revealed that some of the most populated areas of the planet no longer experience nighttime darkness, which causes humanity to gradually lose the ability to see the stars.

What's happening with Latin America?

According to a study carried out by the World Atlas of Light Pollution and published in Science Advances in 2016, the country with the highest light pollution in Latin America is Argentina. Chile is the second most polluted Latin American country and both countries are among the top 20 worldwide.

More recent information published this year by the Buenos Aires Times reveals the current situation that Chile is experiencing due to the high lighting in this country. In Chile is the Atacama desert north of Santiago, which has the ideal conditions for the study of stars that attract astronomers from around the globe.

Even so, the growth of cities and the increasingly frequent use of LED technology in the light, increase light pollution and threatens the work of the observatories installed in this region. This means of communication mentions that by the year 2020, Chile will host 70% of the world's astronomical infrastructure, thanks to the fact that it has one of the darkest skies in the world.

However, compared to the end of the last decade, the deterioration of the sky in this area has increased by 30%. Therefore, it is essential to establish mechanisms to reduce the increase in artificial lights.

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What to do?

As a preventive measure to the lighting problem, the scientist Pedro Sanhueza directs the Technical Office for the Protection of the Quality of the Sky (OTPC) to inform the inhabitants of northern Chile of the negative impacts of light pollution in areas such as Antofagasta, Coquimbo, and La Serena.

The Buenos Aires Times mentions different strategies that have been implemented in the Paranal Observatory to reduce the adverse effects of human light sources, such as:

  • Vehicles traveling around the observatory are prohibited from everything except the parking lights
  • The residences of astronomers at the base, at 2,635 meters (8,645 feet) above sea level, have little light, to avoid interfering with the observation of galaxies

Even so, urban growth in nearby cities radically affects the astronomy of this area and there are already difficulties to make observations at 20 degrees above the horizon, according to statements made by the head of the Tololo Observatory, Chris Smith. Although different strategies for the prevention and reduction of light pollution are promoted, there is a fear that there will be the possibility of closing these Chilean observatories.

This is due to precedents such as the Observatorio de Monte Palomar in California, which has had to drastically reduce its activities due to light pollution in Los Angeles.


According to this medium, between 300 million and 1 trillion birds die a year because of this type of pollution, in addition to wasting billions of dollars in countries like the United States. Likewise, Europe has the worst light pollution on the planet. In fact, almost the entire continent is in an uninterrupted nighttime glow.


LatinAmerican Post | Camila Peñaloza

Translated from 'La luz artificial ya no deja ver el cielo nocturno'

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