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Nothing illustrates the stark USA population divide like a dark sky map

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#1 RobH2020

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 07:34 AM

I knew that the US population was skewed towards the east... But I've never seen such a stark illustration of how clean a break it is between east and west as this dark sky map before!

 

Must be glorious, stargazing wise to live in that west side of the country.

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#2 desertstars

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:18 AM

Must be glorious, stargazing wise to live in that west side of the country.

It certainly can be. 



#3 DLuders

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:42 AM

The population centers tend to be around areas with potable water; the dark areas lack water sources.


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#4 Chilihead

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:45 AM

A couple years ago I hauled my Edge up to my parents house in Colorado.

It was a revelation. The structure in Andromeda was obvious, unlike I had ever seen from home.


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#5 jfaldo

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 10:37 AM

Wyoming is the 10th largest state and has the lowest population. It usually hovers around the 570,000 mark. There are some awesome dark sky sites here. That being said living here is not for everyone. Not to sound snobbish but as a rule we Wyomingites kinda like it that waywaytogo.gif


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#6 Starsareus

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 10:47 AM

How about a world map! Interesting to see which countries have least light pollution too.



#7 csa/montana

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 10:57 AM

 

 
Must be glorious, stargazing wise to live in that west side of the country.

Yes it is! smile.gif 


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#8 csa/montana

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 11:01 AM

The population centers tend to be around areas with potable water; the dark areas lack water sources.

 

I don't think this is the reason. Mine's definitely a dark area, and there are many lakes, rivers in the western States.  Lack of job opportunities would probably be way ahead of water.  I live close to 3 lakes, 2 dams, yet the population is very small.


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#9 mountain monk

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 11:29 AM

I agree with Carol on this. The mountains around here--the Grater Yellowstone Ecosystem--are the source of the Mississippi, Colorado, and Snake/Columbia rivers. There is a lot of water in some remote places in the West. Problem is...you all in the cities steal it! But we still have lots anyway. I usually combine fishing Blue Ribbon streams and rivers with observing with my scope under gray or black zone skies. That's pretty easy here.

 

Dark skies

 

Jack


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#10 Mike_Feldman

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 11:57 AM

What amazes me is how lit up the areas are around Calgary, Edmonton, and the oil sands regions.

 

https://www.lightpol...0FFFFFTFFFFFFFF


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#11 viewer

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 12:04 PM

Could it be when the continent was colonized from the East most simply didn't move farther than necessary?


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#12 rowdy388

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 12:06 PM

For someone like me who spent his whole life in the lush, green east, spending time in the west was an eye opener. Arid and brown in most places out west. Made me appreciate the garden landscapes in the east. I know the American west has its own style of beauty that probably transcends what we have in the east but the groundwater levels there are dropping and a serious problem. Now excuse me while I go and shovel the snow off my roof. (Just joking but that is sometimes a big problem around here.)


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#13 Francopoli

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 12:55 PM

Naw, the interior west is terrible. Awful. Nobody should live there.


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#14 mountain monk

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 12:58 PM

Again, the West in a big place. and conditions vary a lot. A lot! This has been a relatively mild winter, but I still have four feet of snow on the ground. We are not worried about ground water.

 

Dark skies

 

Jack


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#15 Ranger Tim

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 01:34 PM

Idaho stinks. Tell a friend.


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#16 Lola Bruce

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 02:23 PM

Something is wrong with this map. Areas that I know are not represented properly. The city light fall off is much more west. The Rockies are the west boundary of the mid west light dome.

 

Bruce



#17 RobH2020

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 02:24 PM

Could it be when the continent was colonized from the East most simply didn't move farther than necessary?


Could well be, but it's the almost perfectly straight line from north to south that i find fascinating!

#18 RobH2020

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 02:33 PM

What amazes me is how lit up the areas are around Calgary, Edmonton, and the oil sands regions.

 

https://www.lightpol...0FFFFFTFFFFFFFF

At least it's not too far to grey zones there though. My entire country is lit up! Plus the rest of the nearby continent haha.

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#19 JMW

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 06:31 PM

It's jobs AND water. Look at Las Vegas. The population center of Nevada was Reno/Virginia City/Carson City a hundred years ago. Hoover Dam was built and Las Vegas grew slowly at first with the additional of more water but growth exploded when gambling went from mob control to Wall Street investors.

 

Cold climate is also a factor which can slow population growth. The upper peninsula of Michigan is one of the darker areas east of the Mississippi. Water isn't a problem but jobs and cold winters are. Before air conditioning much of the south had limited populations because of hot and or humid summer months. 

 

I live in Reno and grew up in northern Michigan. I am grateful that I can go camping and enjoy dark sky astronomy within a few hours of home.  Most of the Great Basin includes much of the darkest areas on the map.


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#20 payner

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 06:36 PM

I agree with Carol on this. The mountains around here--the Grater Yellowstone Ecosystem--are the source of the Mississippi, Colorado, and Snake/Columbia rivers. There is a lot of water in some remote places in the West. Problem is...you all in the cities steal it! But we still have lots anyway. I usually combine fishing Blue Ribbon streams and rivers with observing with my scope under gray or black zone skies. That's pretty easy here.

 

Dark skies

 

Jack

While the area of the Rockies you speak of is certainly part of the source, with the MS River mainstem beginning in a natural lake in northern Minnesota, it's interesting to note the Mississippi is a comparatively smaller river than the Ohio River at the point of the Ohio's discharge, where it discharges nearly 100 ft3/s more water at that point than the volume of the MS just above the confluence. While the geographic drainage of the MS R. is much larger at that point, this is the result from draining a large part of the humid eastern US, including most of the central and southern Appalachian Province.


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#21 jrbarnett

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:07 PM

I knew that the US population was skewed towards the east... But I've never seen such a stark illustration of how clean a break it is between east and west as this dark sky map before!

 

Must be glorious, stargazing wise to live in that west side of the country.

 

Funny thing is, only slightly more of the US population lives east of the Mississippi than lives west of the Mississippi.  58% east vs. 42% west.  The delta of just 8%.  But you easterners clearly have 90% of the light pollution.

 

It's really not so much population numbers as population distribution.  Were the two halves 50-50 the LP map would look pretty much the same.  Western population is concentrated along the coast.  Eastern population is more homogeneously distributed over the region.  Where people, light pollution.  It would be an easy problem to fix, really.  Most small towns in the eastern half are dying slow deaths anyway (population decline, vacant homes and businesses, etc.).  One reason the west has so much dark landmass is that we have much, much more public land (national parks, large military bases, state parks, federal preserves, BLM lands, etc.).  Use imminent domain powers, buy up huge swaths of the rural rust belt, meth belt and big chunks of the rural south cheaply, and convert them to environmentally protected public lands - let nature reclaim them.  You'd have your dark without needing to travel so far to find it.

 

I’d sell my meth belt farmland to Uncle Sam for a project like that. I actually have two small farms and more extensive mineral and energy rights in southern Illinois.  That’s home for me; I’d love to see it turned into a National Park rather than dry up into ghost towns.

 

Best,

 

Jim 


Edited by jrbarnett, 23 January 2020 - 11:27 PM.

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#22 jrbarnett

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 08:15 PM

At least it's not too far to grey zones there though. My entire country is lit up! Plus the rest of the nearby continent haha.

Actually green zones are darned fine for astronomy, and it looks like the UK has a significant number of green zone sub-regions.  The bigger downside in the UK is the weather.  Not only do you have to travel a bit for a patch of green zone sky, you also have to pray for clear skies.

 

I belong to a club here in California.  We do dark sky trips one or two times a year.  We typically drive between 6 and 13 hours in a day to get to and from our preferred sites.  Driving 6 to 13 hours in the UK gets you from almost anywhere to a green zone or better.   

 

Of course in the western US these sites are gray and black zones, with high elevation (~7000 to 8000 feet), low humidity (low double digits - ~11-15%) and rare cloud cover in the seasons we visit them.

 

- Jim


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#23 Ranger Tim

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:48 AM

I find mosquitos to be on a par with light pollution in terms of observing limitations. Thank goodness there are fewer out west in the dry high desert than there were back on the east coast. We are fortunate that the population shuns much of the west, keeping it dark. The western US is wonderful for astronomy but not all that great for finding the conveniences that make living easier quick at hand. Thank goodness we live in the age of mail order and internet delivery!


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#24 hirada

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 03:55 AM



How about a world map! Interesting to see which countries have least light pollution too.

 You've probably found it already, but here's another:

 

 

https://blue-marble.de/nightlights

 

Edit: correct wrong link


Edited by hirada, 24 January 2020 - 04:00 AM.


#25 hirada

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 04:17 AM

...and for those, who want to find out by themselves, how dark the West really is:

 

http://www.unihedron...rojects/darksky

 

Quite interesting. 




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