All across the world, urban areas are getting brighter every year through a combination of poorly designed lighting fixtures, increased brightness levels, and urban sprawl. The result is a night sky that has faded from a window to a once unimaginably rich and complex expanse, to a soft glow of yellow and black; where we struggle to distinguish between stars, satellites, and planes.

The way we classify levels of light pollution is through a scale known as the Bortle Scale. It ranges from Class 1, a perfect dark sky, to Class 9, including dense urban areas such as London, New York, or Tokyo.

Light pollution is a rapidly worsening problem that is affecting urban areas across the world as now 80% of Americans and Europeans born today will never experience a sky dark enough to see the Milky Way. And while the poetic loss of the night sky carries its own implications, new evidence is emerging that connects a number of health problems with excessive and invasive lighting.

The constellations we know of in western culture can no longer be seen from many urban areas. It is with that thought in mind, that a new system of constellations should be designed that rely only on visible stars as a result of the extreme light pollution in urban areas.

However, conveying this information and being able to understand various levels of light pollution becomes a communications challenge. By creating a new set of constellations based around the alphabet, a typeface family can be created that becomes more legible as light pollution levels decrease.

Everything That Was There Before (and Still Is) explores a future dark sky's greatest challenge: encouraging people to save something they've never seen.

Using visible stars data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a typeface called Starlore - Northern Hemisphere was created to help explain the different light pollution levels (The Bortle Scale). There are 9 weights, ranging from Bortle 1 (excellent night sky) to Bortle 9  (very poor night sky), each of which uses visible star data in the construction of the typeface. 

Try a poor night sky typeface:

The result of the project was the start of an ongoing body of research that explores the area between design, science, and activism. In Early 2016, the website www.EverythingThatWasThere.com will be launched, which will further explore how citizens can take an active role in campaigning for darker skies, regardless of their location.