The physics involved are awesome, and so too are the billions and billions of stars seen from here on Earth. But with every passing day, increasing light and air pollution from growing cities diminishes our ability to observe the cosmos.
French artist Thierry Cohen draws attention to this creeping loss in his series Villes éteintes (Darkened Cities), which imagines the world's largest cities under clear night skies. His photographs are as impossible as they are beautiful. The dark urban landscapes and vibrant constellations are composites of two images—one of the city and one of the sky.
"By combining two realities, I am making a third that you cannot see … but it exists! I am showing you the missing stars," says Cohen. "Photography is way of showing things that we can't see. Photography is a way to dream. I am not showing you post-apocalyptic cities, merely cities without electricity. I am bringing back the silence."