Reaching for the Stars

Exploring the Connection Between Light Pollution and Mental Health in the United States


  • Anthony Alexander Infantino Center for Undergraduate Research
  • Sarah Paprotna
  • Siddharth Anilkumar



light pollution, mental health, stargazing


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of good mental health is becoming more and more relevant. Outdoor therapies have been used as treatments for mental health for years, so the researchers investigated if stargazing has the potential to have the same benefits. Rather than surveying people on how often they stargaze, the researchers used light pollution data as a metric for the ability of a region to stargaze. The light pollution data was gathered from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and the mental health data was collected from a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). All fifty states were stratified based on light pollution and ten were chosen for analysis. From these states, the number of people with mental illness, number of people who received mental illness treatment, and number of attempted suicides were all considered. Linear regression was performed for these three metrics against light pollution. Overall, the correlation coefficient is too low to confidently establish correlation. Further research and different methods are required to determine the existence of a correlation.


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Social & Behavioral Sciences, Business, Education