“The Heavens Declare the Glory of God.” – Psalm 19:1a
This verse is inscribed on the gable of the “pink clubhouse” at Stellafane in Springfield, Vermont, the birthplace of modern-day amateur astronomy. However, the night sky does not appear very glorious if it is spoiled by light pollution… the collective glow of ground lighting, scattered upwards onto the sky.
Due to light pollution, only about 5% of the visible stars can be seen from well-lit urban areas. For this reason, the contemporary sky is unimpressive, and many adults today have never seen the spectacular sight of the Milky Way glittering in a star-spangled night sky.
Though it can be a challenge, it is nevertheless possible to learn the constellations from the light polluted cities. You can still pick out the stars of first and second magnitude, the 100 brightest stars in the heavens, which form the basic outlines of many constellations. Then when you do visit a truly dark sky, you already know what you’re seeing and you really appreciate it!
The key to learning is to diligently observe the stars every clear night, and make it a personal discipline to learn the constellations. Light pollution is no excuse for NOT learning your way around the sky!