I have a very healthy interest in astronomy. I love to read about the planets, the stars, the galaxies, super nova’s, black holes and the universe. It feeds my imagination and triggers my will to learn new things. And the more I learn about this the more I realize we know nothing yet.
But when here on Lesvos my interest in astronomy suddenly gets stronger again and I know why…
It is really simple: Wait until it is dark in the evening and look up to the sky…
When home in The Netherlands I will see just a few stars.
But here on Lesvos, and especially when I move to a spot with no artificial lighting, the sky is covered with stars. Hundreds, no even thousands and more of them. The sky is literally covered with stars. An amazing sight to see!
The reason for the difference is also very simple: light pollution!
Sure, when in a Greek city one will also not able to see all the stars. But there is a difference, The Netherlands is so densely populated that there is literally no place in the country where you can see the real sky with stars, even not in the middle of areas where no one lives.
When I look from my home in the direction of Amsterdam, I see a thick layer of light.
Is light pollution a problem? Apart from the sorry fact that we only can see a fragment of the beautiful stars, yes it is. Light pollution has a negative influence on the balance between day and night. Specially plants and night animals are suffering from this.
Anyway, back to the stars at the Greek sky .
When I see a bright star here, I start to ask myself right away questions. What is the name of that star? How many light-years is it away from here? Is it part of a constellation and do I know that constellation? Is there anything special to know about that star?
Luckily I have two great apps on my iPad that gives me the answers on this questions I might have: “Solar Walk 2” and “Star Walk 2” (luckily it was my iPhone that was stolen this holiday and not my iPad even when the iPad is WiFi only). These two apps are great for any astronomy enthusiast.
So quite often when the others are already sleeping, I sit on the balcony of our hotel room or make a small walk to study the skies, looking at the stars and constellations, looking up all there is to know about them. Great fun.
At home, I use apps also every now and then, but there they tend to make me a bit sad because these apps show very clearly what I should be able to see but cannot see because of the light pollution…
The pictures in this article are screenshots from Star Walk 2 and Solar Walk 2.