Light Pollution

Roger Porter

June 20, 2011

When I was a little boy my family used to live on 90th Avenue in Deep East Oakland, CA USA. It was me, my brother, my sister, my mother, my uncle, my aunty, and my two cousins living in an old pink two-story house. Even though the pink paint was peeling, the structure was falling apart, and we lived in the middle of a notorious ghetto the years I spent there were completely joyous.

Summertime was the best.

I remember going to the corner store and buying 10 cent otter pops and jolly ranchers. I remember water balloon fights. I remember cold Pineapple Crush sodas. I remember girls playing double-dutch. I remember going out on the porch at night, looking straight up into the open expanse and having my older cousin extend his fingers to the sky and point out every constellation.

“That’s Orion’s Belt right there! Oooh and you see that? That’s the Big Dipper.”

There would be shooting stars, twinkling stars, and little stars right next to stars that looked huge by comparison. Now when I look up in the sky above Oakland there only seem t be a scattered few.

They say the reason why is because of something called light pollution. Which basically means that all the new street lights and traffic signals that have been installed over the past 25 years, in addition to all the new light bulbs burning in all the newer homes produce a tremendous accumulative glow which prevents people in an urban metropolis from seeing the stars.

The once electric summer sky is now just black and generic. I miss the constellations. I miss my old house. I miss my innocence. I suppose it should make me feel a little better knowing that even though I can’t see the stars they are still there—but it doesn’t. For if we cannot see them then they are as good as gone.

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