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December 18, 2014

What our skies would look like without city lights

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From the New York Times

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"We treat light like a drug whose price is spiraling toward zero," the science reporter Dirk Hanson wrote in Nautilus. And when faced with the availability of cheaper and more efficient lighting technology, he noted, we "simply use more of it," rather than bank the savings.

As a result, the Milky Way is indecipherable by the naked eye to two-thirds of Americans and about 90 percent of the world’s population. Many people consider this a profound loss — for our health and for our humanity.

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Thierry Cohen, a French photographer, is one of them — and in his series "Darkened Cities," he seeks to recover a little of the wonder of darkness through transporting photographs.

"I address in particular the city dweller who forgets and no longer understands nature.... To show him stars is to help him dream again."

He imagines some of the world's largest cities [from the top down: New York, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, and Tokyo] — with all the lights turned out, mere silhouettes against sparkling night skies.

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Each image consists of actual photos — plural — one for the city in silhouette, the other for the wondrous sky. For the first, he shoots a city in "day for night" fashion, that is, by the preferably low light of a day for a view that looks like nighttime. For the next, he trots off to a faraway place on the globe with the same latitude, "mostly in deserts," he said.

December 18, 2014 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

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