Even without that giant ‘X’, there’s still a lot of light pollution

Billboard and brands are overtaking the night sky with flashy lights.

satellite map of light pollution

Imagine you’re chilling in your apartment at night, trying to watch a movie, when the fire of a thousand suns comes streaming through your window.

That’s apparently what happened to one San Francisco man when X — formerly Twitter — put a strobing “X” sign on its HQ last week. (TBF, the man said he didn’t know how to describe the brightness, so we went with the sun thing on his behalf.)

A city inspector, who was denied access to the building, was told it was a temporary sign “for an event,” per NPR. By Monday — and 24 complaints later — it had been taken down. A city official said the property owner would be assessed for fees for permitting and inspection costs.

Light pollution

… is defined as the the excessive or inappropriate brightening of the night sky and includes:

  • Glare (brightness that causes discomfort)
  • Skyglow (brightening over uninhabited areas)
  • Light trespass (light where it isn’t needed)
  • Clutter (confusing groupings of light)

It disrupts human sleep patterns and confuses animals, causing sea turtle hatchlings to wander into cities instead of the sea or birds to migrate at the wrong time.

It’s also gotten worse over the years…

… thanks to controversial digital billboards and other modern tech.

Astronomers — who hate light pollution because it makes seeing constellations difficult — voiced concerns (and doubted the necessity) of a 500-drone light show in NYC celebrating “Candy Crush.”

BTW: Space billboards are apparently a potential thing. They’d appear as pixelated images in the sky, potentially earning companies up to ~$5m annually per billboard, per Insider. And guess who wants to launch space ad satellites? The same dude who put that “X” up in San Francisco.

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