About Me

When not at work with students, I spend my time in my room either reading, calculating something using pen and paper, or using a computer. I read almost anything: from the pornographic to the profound, although my main interests are mathematics and physics. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." -Erasmus

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Red Night Sky

I usually leave my office at around 8 or 9 pm. My  habit is to listen to music while taking a bicycle ride home. Home is an hour away, so that gives me plenty of time to listen and let my mind wander. Even though I shouldn't have, I happened to look up at the sky and could only see the moon and a star or two. The rest of the sky was reddish from the street lights and pollution.

This is actually an old problem connected with urbanization-- as cities get larger, city lights eventually obscure the night sky so that only the brightest stars are the only ones visible at night. And if we want the stars and the Milky Way back in the sky, the solution is simple: make sure that the outdoor lighting you use is appropriate. There is a movement called the Dark Sky Initiative, and it is all about making sure that future generations can enjoy a starry night sky.

One of the things I miss in my home town is the night sky. For example, the sight of the Milky Way has given me much pleasure. Here in Metro Manila, you can see only the brightest stars, and you can't even see the Milky Way because of light pollution. And that would be too bad, especially for children who grow up seeing nothing else. If you have never seen the starry sky, in some ways you are made less human, since you will not be able to fully appreciate poetry that evokes the feeling of being under the stars. (Such as, for example, Neruda's Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.)

Which makes me wonder: how will future poets describe walking with their beloved under the moonlight?  "Under the red night sky, we walked, my beloved and I"?

1 comment:

Tim said...

It's rather funny, a lesser known band from decades ago did write about this, rather poetically and almost prophetically in 1989. Have a listen to 'Under red skies', here:


They produced one awesome chart topping album that quickly faded into obscurity.

I just returned to Mandaluyong from Hong Kong, and one of the stark differences is indeed the pollution. The major issue is, you can't curtail it without taking away income for many (trike, jeep, bus drivers). We have E-jeeps, a proposal for E-trikes .. but nothing concrete.

I notice the same sky when crossing the Makati / Mandaluyong bridge, especially when Rockwell is lit up for the holidays.

I'm quite sure, however that poets will find their muse, albeit several interesting shades of pink :)