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See What 26 Cities Would Look Like Without Pollution

Light pollution is a much larger problem than you may think.

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toronto light pollution city Courtesy Under Lucky Stars

Stargazing can be a challenge, especially in large cities with the abundance of light pollution, but it may be one of the most beautiful aspects our natural surroundings has to offer. Humans have been fascinated by what is beyond our planet since the beginning of time, so it’s unfortunate to see how we have blinded ourselves to what we can see with the naked eye when we look up at the sky. Light pollution comes from man-made light, making it almost impossible to see stars in large cities because of the demand for artificial lighting such as streetlights. Due to many cities being locked down because of the novel coronavirus, stars are emerging into view little by little.

A new photo series, Under Lucky Stars, compiles images of skylines taken by various photographers in 26 cities that are reimagined to illustrate what city skies would look like free from light pollution. While these images are not authentic, the science behind the damage we have caused to prevent the natural phenomena is truly accurate. Check out these photos showing other ways nature has been bouncing back due to coronavirus.

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Under Lucky Stars barcelona star pollution light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Barcelona, Spain

Spain’s problem with light pollution has become so bad over the past several years that it’s having a major impact on the environment. Light pollution has disrupted the habitats of many animals that require darkness to thrive. Here’s how coronavirus is affecting the world’s endangered animals.

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Beijing china light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Beijing, China

A study in 2016 estimated that two-thirds of China’s population is affected by light pollution and one-third never see the Milky Way.

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berlin germany light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Berlin, Germany

Europe is one of the worst offenders of light pollution along with the United States. The largest culprit? Street lights. Don’t miss these tiny everyday changes you can make to help the environment.

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light pollution Buenos Aires Courtesy Under Lucky Stars

Buenos Aires, Argentina

According to a 2017 study by the International Dark-Sky Association, images from satellites show that light pollution is rising in Buenos Aires at a rate of 2 percent per year. Light pollution is a huge problem for the city mostly coming from street lights along with advertising signs and buildings. Buenos Aires is one of the most popular destinations in South America.

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Cairo Egypt light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo is one of the world’s most polluted cities, including light pollution. The Egyptian government is taking steps to improve air quality and artificial light related problems by 2023. Here are 25 tiny everyday changes you can make to cut back on air pollution.

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capetown South Africa light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Capetown, South Africa

South Africa stands out from the rest of the countries populating Africa when looking at satellite images. Africa is the least affected by light pollution when looking at other major cities in the world, but as countries in Africa are rapidly developing, so is lighting infrastructure. See these bright ideas for saving on lighting.

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chicago light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Chicago, United States

The bustling city of Chicago is one of the brightest in the world. As it’s full of life and human activity, the true nature of the night sky is almost completely hidden to the naked eye. This is the surprising reason why Chicago is called the “Windy City.”

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Dehli India light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Delhi, India

A study published in January 2019 indicates that light pollution from outdoor lights has been on a steady rise in various parts of India over the past 20 years. Urban expansion, industrial development, and other air pollutants have contributed to this alarming rise.

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Dubai India light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

As Dubai is known for a lively nightlife scene, the city is rapidly growing and one of the top locations affected by light pollution. The iconic soaring tower of Burj Khalifa overlooks the skyscraper-filled skyline that emits brightness, contributing to the artificial pollution. Don’t miss the latest ways of reducing your carbon footprint at home.

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Hong Kong China light pollution city Courtesy Under Lucky Stars

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a strong history of light pollution and within the past decade has even been described as having the worst light pollution in the world.

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Houston Texas light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Houston, United States

Various cities in Texas have embraced regulations for outdoor lighting, but Houston has converted thousands of street lights to LEDs that use less electricity, last longer, and produce less light pollution.

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Lisbon Portugal light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Lisbon, Portugal

As light pollution is an issue in all major cities, Lisbon contributes heavily to the damage, but last year an astrotourism destination opened in Portugal so visitors can view the night sky unobstructed by light pollution. Dark Sky Aldeias do Xisto is spread out across rural towns that don’t generate much artificial light. Check out these iconic constellations.

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London United Kngdom light pollution city Courtesy Under Lucky Stars

London, United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to over 18 species of bats that have been majorly affected by light pollution. The glow from the sky is the equivalent of looking straight into a car’s headlights for a bat, blinding them over time.

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Los Angeles USA light pollution city America Courtesy Under Lucky Stars

Los Angeles, United States

Light pollution is cause for alarm in Los Angeles due to its geographical inclination to trap coastal fog and refract light a bit more dramatically than other cities. The city’s artificial light produces a haze that appears as the halo over the city. Here’s what the 12 smoggiest cities look like after coronavirus quarantine.

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Miami Florida light pollution cityCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Miami, United States

Florida has created a space called Big Cypress National Preserve that eliminates all unnecessary light so humans can see the stars. To the east of Big Cypress, Miami’s light pollution can be seen as a yellow fog called sky glow. Don’t miss how you can cut back on your energy bills this summer.

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Milan Italy city light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Milan, Italy

While there are different levels of light pollution throughout Italy, there isn’t a sector that isn’t affected even just a little bit by artificial light as shown by these satellite photos.

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montreal Canada city light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Montreal, Canada

Montreal requires a ton of artificial outdoor light due to the fact that the winter days are only seven hours long during the winter solstice making the city a huge culprit for light pollution.

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moscow Russia light pollution city Courtesy Under Lucky Stars

Moscow, Russia

Moscow has the worst light pollution of all the cities, with a Bortle scale score of 9-meaning stars are mostly invisible, including constellations. Brush up on your star knowledge and check out these astronomy facts you never learned in school.

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new york city light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

New York, United States

With a population of 8.3 million people just in New York City, there’s little doubt that the air quality is less than pure. They call it “The City That Never Sleeps” for a reason; it’s never truly dark.

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Paris France city light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Paris, France

France adopted a law that went into effect on the very first day of 2019 called Decree of December 27, 2018 on the Prevention, Reduction and Limitation of Light Pollution. The law sets a standard for nighttime darkness in controlling emissions of light in outdoor spaces. Here’s how you can visit 300,000 works of art virtually in Paris right now.

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Rio De Janeiro Brazil light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Juliana Ribeirão de Freitas conducted a study in 2017 that tracked the spread of artificial lighting in Brazil. The findings revealed that artificial lighting is affecting 15 percent of Brazil’s mangrove forests and 22 percent of its restingas. While the changes in light weren’t dramatically noticeable, the trend shows that this won’t be the case for very long.

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Rotterdam Netherlands light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Rotterdam, Netherlands

As of 2018, after years of increasing light pollution over Rotterdam, satellites show a decrease in light being emitted from the city. For the downward trend to continue, businesses will need to switch off lights whenever possible. Here’s the real reason splitting the bill is called “going Dutch.”

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Seoul South Korea Light PollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Seoul, South Korea

Light pollution creates a luminous fog that impairs the view of stars at night. It also has had a proven effect on human health. Light works as a biological trigger that subdues bodily functions that should naturally occur at night. In fact, darkness can be beautiful. See these breathtaking views of the night sky that you never get to see.

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Singapore Asia light pollution cityCourtesy Under Lucky Stars


Singapore has become one of Asia’s financial hubs over the past 50 years and although essential to urban foundations, the light pollution from the lively city has major effects on human and environmental health. Office buildings stay lit until deep into the night and public spaces are bright for the safety of pedestrians, making light pollution a huge problem for Singapore.

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Sydney Australia light pollution cityCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Sydney, Australia

In Sydney, the night sky is almost completely obstructed to the naked eye apart from a few of the brighter stars. Light pollution, while not as strongly focused on as other pollutants like oil and plastic, is nonetheless still a concern.

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tokyo Japan light pollutionCourtesy Under Lucky Stars

Tokyo, Japan

It’s a challenge to find clear skies in Japan. While Tokyo doesn’t rank in the top cities for light pollution, the issue is still a major concern that should be taken seriously. Next, see what these notable skylines would look like without air pollution.

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