1 in 3 people can't see the Milky Way

Ian Waldie

Milky Way

Ian Waldie
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: The Milky Way and the Southern Cross become visible above the Sydney Opera House during Earth Hour March 31, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

When you look up at the night sky and wonder where the stars of the Milky Way have gone, there's a reason.

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Science Advances published a paper last week that detailed how one in three people worldwide are unable to see the Milky Way -- and 83 percent of the world’s population live under light-polluted skies, the Los Angeles Times reported.

According to the data, the United States and Europe have 99 percent of their population living under light-polluted skies -- keeping the Milky Way out of view for 80 percent of North Americans and 60 percent of Europeans.

“Humanity has enveloped our planet in a luminous fog that prevents most of the Earth’s population from having the opportunity to observe our galaxy,” wrote the research team led by Fabio Falchi of the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute in Thiene, Italy, according to the Times.

"We've lost some of our view into the cosmos," Chris Elvidge, a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was part of the team that created the new atlas, published by the journal Science Advances, told NPR. "There are still people that can remember when they used to be able to see the Milky Way when they would walk outside at night, but those are becoming fewer and fewer."

Singapore suffers from the most light pollution and its skies never go dark, the study found. According to the Times, scientists discovered that populations in Chad, Central African Republic and Madagascar are not as affected by light pollution and still retain the ability to see the Milky Way.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

The Milky Way and the moon dazzle over Twin Lakes in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in September. #SpaceSunday 
More amazing night-sky photos from readers: http://usat.ly/1K2mwvu
(Photo by Eric Houck, Your Take)

Posted by USA TODAY on Sunday, October 11, 2015

A 30-second exposure shows the Milky Way on June 8 near Strawberry, Calif.
More spectacular photos from people like you: http://usat.ly/1Hpp6Mw
(Photo by Eric Houck, Your Take)

Posted by USA TODAY on Tuesday, June 16, 2015

There are circumstances where staying up all night are acceptable (and also highly encouraged). One is waiting until 3...

Posted by U.S. Department of the Interior on Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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