This post has been updated with light pollution data from 2016.

It’s October and nights are getting longer with every passing day: this makes me think about night sky photography.

One of the issues facing the modern night sky observer is ‘light pollution’. Light that is meant to brighten up cities and streets doesn’t stay in those cities, it is scattered up and out of the city, ‘polluting’ the surrounding dark areas with unwanted light.

I found an online map that illustrates which areas are affected by this issue. With all else being equal, Newfoundland is not a bad place to observe the stars.

Here’s a closeup of the St. John’s metropolitan area. I can already see a washed out Milky Way from my backyard in Torbay, but when I’m observing from a ‘blue zone’ the sky is much darker, the difference is amazing:

Light Pollution 2016 – St. John’s & Conception Bay

Here’s a map of the entire island, wow, there are lots of dark places yet!

Light Pollution 2016 – Newfoundland

Compare that with more populated areas of Canada and Europe (same scale as island map):

Light Pollution 2016 – Great Lakes & Ontario

The above map shows much of southern Ontario, it is more densely populated and polluted but you can still get away from the light if you move towards the edges of the Great Lakes or to Algonquin. Compare that to the Netherlands below, the only decent place to see the night sky there is on the north shore:

Light Pollution 2016 – Benelux in northwest Europe