While tonight’s Olympics Opening Ceremony in London will feature a $42M recreation of the idyllic British countryside, one thing organizers won’t be able to replicate is a unspoiled view of the nighttime sky.

A 2012 survey found that the UK’s night skies are saturated with light pollution, with just 2% of participants able to see 31 or more stars on a clear night. 53% reported seeing 10 stars or fewer within the major constellation of Orion. As the BBC reported earlier this year, only 1/10 of the country today has access to truly dark skies; compared to the 1950s, when nearly everyone could see the now-elusive Milky Way.

“When we saturate the night sky with unnecessary light, it damages the character of the countryside and blurs the distinction between town and country,” said Emma Marrington, rural policy campaigner for the organization Campaign to Protect Rural England.

“But this isn’t just about a spectacular view of stars; light pollution can also disrupt wildlife and affect people’s sleeping patterns.”

Indeed, as we reported earlier this week, a new study recently linked urban light pollution with an increase in major depressive disorder.

While the UK does have some minor light pollution legislation, critics content that one only need try and count starts to see that it’s not effective.

“Light pollution is a disaster for anyone trying to study the stars,” Bob Mizon of the Campaign for Dark Skies told the Press Association. ”It’s like a veil of light is being drawn across the night sky, denying many people the beauty of a truly starry night. Many children growing up today will never see the Milky Way; never see the unimaginable glory of billions of visible stars shining above them.”

To read more about the organizations and people fighting to improve the nighttime skies above the UK, jump here. To conclude, I leave you with this quote:

“Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course… We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.” — Paul Hawken

Photo credit: Light pollution in the UK taken on March 27, 2012 by the NASA Earth Observatory; image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon with annotations by Phys.org