The Bright Lights of Border Control Scare the Astronomers' Stars Away

There's a reason you can't see stars in the city—lights. Lights everywhere! They drown the sky's bounty out, and apparently it's even affecting Arizona astronomers, who are unfortunately situated right by the border...and the border patrol's spotlights.

Border-jumpers and smugglers targeted by border patrol's bright helicopter lights are actually ruining the chances of the state's astronomers, located at Lawrence Whipple Observatory, when searching for new planets. Millions of dollars are pumped into the astronomy business, with millions more generated—but the occasional wrong flightpath of the helicopters causes havoc with the telescopes.

Ironically, as people flock to the observatory for a spot of stargazing, the businesses have followed, with shopping malls, retirement villages and other commercial hubs filling the area with their lights. Drivers are already encouraged to only use their parking lights when the sun goes down, but everything appears to add up and minimize the observatory's visibility, no matter how expensive their telescopes may be. [NY Times]