Southern skies and Mt John experience wow Vatican astronomer

Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican Astronomer​  believes Tekapo is one of the best places in the world for astronomy.

“There’s few places where you can actually see the stars that brightly that the Milky Way casts a shadow.

And you forget that’s the way the universe used to look to everybody before we filled the sky with this worthless, artificial lighting.

“Light pollution is real pollution – it injures human beings and it injures animal life and it creates more problems.

People feel more secure when there’s lights but in fact, the bright lights at night blind you to things going on in the corners. If you have a lit alley, that’s where all the graffiti artists go, because they want to be able to see what they’re doing.

“In a homily, Pope Benedict compared light pollution to human sinfulness. We blind ourselves with our own lights so we cannot see God’s light; we blind ourselves to the sky that is so brilliant that it is scary and awe-inspiring because we are afraid of awe, and we just want to be in our own little cocoon. We are afraid to look outside.

“The majority of people have never seen the Milky Way. What I’m discovering teaching online class to high school kids is, people can’t even see the Moon. Now I don’t care how light polluted it is, you can see the Moon if you know to look for it, but nobody knows where to look for it, nobody knows where the Moon is on a night-to-night basis.

“When you go outside, do you even bother to look up and say, ‘is the Moon out?’. ‘Is there a pattern to the phases of the Moon?’. It’s shocking that something as obvious as that has been lost.”

The dark sky movement is one the Vatican Observatory finds “incredibly important”, even though, ironically, the observatory is building a new telescope in Arizona because of Rome’s light pollution.



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News category: New Zealand, News Shorts.

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