It seems assumed that the specifics of one person's past as contrasted to their present is similar to that of everyone else. This simply isn't so.
Yes, I started out long enough ago to relate to the "50 to 60 years ago" contrasted with the present; but other than that, everything has been different for me.
With my first telescope, I concentrated on the moon, the planets, and the sun -- primarily. Especially the moon, since I could see so much there. A good portion of my time was spent matching my eyepiece views with moon maps, and learning the names that go along with the features I was seeing. For such things, light pollution would have made no difference at all.
OK, so I also observed some deep-sky objects. Then there was naked-eye observing -- learning a few constellations, seeing bright auroras without any travel necessary, and going out with family and neighbors to look for naked-eye comets when the popular media said they were there to be seen. On the other hand, I don't recall actually seeing any of those comets. My first comet was found on my own, without the presence of others at my side. It was early in the morning as opposed to all the community attempts that involved evening comets.
Then there's my light-pollution situation now versus then. Well, for the past several decades my skies have been darker than they were back in those days. So am i supposed to assume that I would have a much more light-polluted sky now than I did then?
And what about all the other differences between then and now? To me, there have been far more significant changes than light-pollution that could potentially change my path. Starting out young in the present would be extremely different for me than it was in my past. There's the Internet, streaming movies, all manner of electronic and non-electronic "distractions" that were non-existent in my past. Similarly, I had "distractions" in my past that would likely not surface in the present time frame.
So, for me, it wouldn't be the light-pollution that would likely stand in my way. Instead it would be all the advances that have been made in the world of electronics, the comforts of living, what I'm exposed to (or not exposed to) of the world around me.
Gone is all the talk and media coverage about the manned space program -- Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Gone is the newness of satellites. Gone is being "entertained" by simple things. Gone (solved) are some of the unsolved science mysteries that might have influenced my choices in the past. Gone would be the prospects of visual comet-hunting (and not because of light-pollution).
If I were just starting out today, there's absolutely no way of predicting if I would develop an interest in astronomy. I would be growing up in a different world. I would be exposed to different influences. Light-pollution would (for me) be far down on the list of things that might change my direction of travel, my choices in my hobbies.
So yeah, light-pollution is a big deal in the present world of amateur astronomy. It has an immense impact on some of us. But it doesn't effect all of us equally; and for some of us, perhaps most of us, there are other factors that would be of greater significance in determining if we would get into this hobby if we were just starting out as youngsters today.
Edited by Sketcher, 14 September 2021 - 11:22 AM.