I became interested in the darkest places in America, the places where one can still see the stars I saw in my youth. Light pollution – LEDs, population growth, misdirected safety concerns – has dramatically reduced our awareness of the stars, and I decided I wanted to drive the darkest line across America, and see what I found out there. I worked with cartographers and computer scientists to devise an algorithm that would plot this course based on these conditions:
- start anywhere on the east coast
- end anywhere on the west coast
- take any passable public roads, no matter how small
- choose the route with the least cumulative light pollution
- assume “perpetual night”, i.e. don’t calculate daytime light
My plan is to drive the route in 2019/2020 and write about it, so if you’ve driven a stretch of it, I’d love to hear what you found in the darkness.
The Darkest Line begins in Jekyll Island, GA. It ends just south of Orick, CA, where Route 101 meets the Redwood Highway.