Power Blackout Shows
the Night Sky Once Again
by Todd Carlson
The power blackout that affected Ontario and many north eastern states on August 14, 2003, allowed urbanites to see the beauty of the night sky for the first time in decades. Millions of people had the opportunity that night to see a sky completely devoid of light pollution and were shocked at what they could see.
Those with telescopes excitedly began observing objects that they never expected would be visible from suburbia and shared them with friends and neighbours.
Although the onset of moonrise soon after dark caused the Milky Way to be washed out, until then, it could easily be seen from downtown locations.
Actual satellite images taken by NOAA/DMSP on August 13, 2003, at 9:21 p.m., EDT, and the night of the blackout at 9:03 p.m., EDT, show the true extent of the blackout.
The contrasting photos below, taken from about 45 minutes north of Toronto, Ontario, show how clearly the Milky Way was visible the night of the blackout and how, when power was restored the following day, the skies returned to their light-polluted state.
Todd Carlson is an avid observer and astrophotographer living under pristine skies near North Bay, Ontario.