Can You See The Milky Way?

Can You See The Milky Way?

We are losing our natural dark skies and sense of wonder.

One of my favorite activities as a kid was convincing my parents to let me stay up late so I could go outside and look at the stars. I remember my parents pointing out the different constellations and my brother and I insisting, “Oh, that one looks like a pan!” or, “Wow, that looks just like a spoon!”

Unfortunately, this beloved tradition of mine may be unavailable to future generations. According to recent studies, one-third of the world cannot see the Milky Way at night due to light pollution. What even is “light pollution?"

Light pollution robs us of a chance to experience the wonder of a natural night sky.

Made to illuminate cities, artificial lights can create a sort of fog in the sky. This fog, known as light pollution, obscures our view of the stars at night. Once only cities had light pollution, but as suburbs and rural zones introduce more and more artificial lighting, they also generate more fog. This prevents us from seeing a truly dark night sky and explains why one-third of the world cannot see the Milky Way.

With light pollution, many people not only lose sight of a natural dark sky but also experience health problems. Artificial light can disrupt the sleep cycle by creating more cortisol and less melatonin hormones, keeping people awake at night.

It has been stated often that you should not look at a bright screen such as your phone or laptop before going to sleep because it will keep you awake. What if this same advice applied to larger light sources, such as street lamps or bright street signs?

What does this invasion of artificial light mean for our future generations?

I hope more people start talking about this. As a teacher, I want my students to be able to go outside at night and look up at those same constellations I saw as a kid. I want them to experience the same wonder and as I did and to use their imaginations in the classroom. But if they cannot see the Milky Way because of light pollution, then how will they learn about the stars?

A few places in the world remain untouched by artificial light, but others are so dominated by artificial light people cannot adapt to true darkness. Singapore is one of those countries that “lives under skies so bright that the eye cannot fully dark-adapt to night vision… This means people living in the country never have the chance to experience true darkness.”

Artificial light is harmful to our health, but it is also harmful to our culture. Already one-third of the world cannot see the Milky Way, and it is clear we need to learn more about light pollution and how to stop it. At the least, we should control it so our future generations can see constellations and stars in the naturally dark sky we loved as children.

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.

I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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Irish-American History Is Just As Important As Any Other Culture, You Can't Prove Me Wrong

I cherish being Irish and I will not let anyone let me feel bad for that.


Depending on when you're reading this, Saint Patrick's day has either just passed or is around the corner. For me, Saint Patrick's day is tomorrow. I've been debating this article for some time now because I didn't know how it would be perceived. At this point, though, I feel it's important for me to get out. No, Irish people were never kept as slaves in America, and I will never be one to try and say they were. However, Irish people were treated tremendously awful in America. A lot of people tend to forget, or just try to erase entirely, the history of the Irish in America. So much so that I felt shameful for wanting to celebrate my heritage. Therefore, I want to bring to light the history that everyone brushes under the rug.

In 1845, a potato famine broke out across Ireland. This was a big deal because the Irish lived off, mainly, potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow, and had tons of nutrients. So when the famine struck, many people either died of starvation or fled to America in seek of refuge. When the Irish arrived in America they were seen as a threat to the decency of America. People viewed them as drunk beasts, sinful savages, barbaric, violent, belligerent, stupid, and white apes. When the Irish would go to look for jobs, many times they found signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply," even when the job was hiring. Therefore, the Irish did the jobs no one wanted, and even jobs African slaves wouldn't do. The biggest example of this is when Irishmen built canals and drained swamps. They were sent to do these things because of the enormous amount of mosquitoes; in the swamp, they would get bit and ultimately die of malaria.

Also, during this time, Irish people were poor and therefore lived in the same neighborhoods as the free African Americans. A lot of the Irish people were friendly with their neighbors of color and even got into interracial relationships. Because the Irish lived in these neighborhoods they were seen as dirty and even a lot of people at this time put African Americans higher on the totem pole than Irish. One person during the time even said, "At least the black families keep their homes clean."

The main reason American's outlook on Irish people changed was that most Irishmen took up fighting for the Union in the Civil War. I make this argument, not because I think the Irish suffered more than African slaves. I don't say this in means of trying to erase the struggles of the African slaves. I do not think that any of our ancestors should have been treated the way they were. I mean to say that the Irish did in fact suffer. Irish people were treated wrongly on the basis of...nothing. Simply because my ancestors hailed from the shores of Eire, they were treated with malice. And I write this simply because I want people to remember. I want people to understand what happened.

On Saint Patrick's Day this year, next year, and for the many years to come, I want people to embrace the Irish culture. I want the folks of Irish heritage to not be ashamed of where they come from; to not be ashamed to share their culture the way I have for many years. I want everyone to have a beer, wear some green, eat a potato or two, and dance the Irish step; to celebrate the history of Irish people with a bit more understanding than before.

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