I have something of an interest in astronomy. I also have a 5" reflector telescope, plus of course binoculars. With the recent coronavirus emergency, a large number of commercial aircraft were grounded. It seemed to me that the skies were much clearer as a result. Now the planes are flying again, and the opposite seems to be true. Is this just my imagination, or pot luck? Do commercial aircraft have an effect on the clarity of the night-time sky?

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting question. I know that the cumulative effect of aircraft contrails have a measurable effect on climate, but I don't know if anyone has measured this with respect to clarity for astronomical purposes. $\endgroup$
    – antlersoft
    Jul 28, 2020 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @antlersoft : noted. I was astonished at how clear and bright the sky was a while back. But by the time I was looking at comet neowise earlier this month, we seemed to be back to normal. I was on the beach the other day looking up at the expanding contrails in what had been a clear blue sky, thinking about it. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2020 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ I found en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_aviation very insightful. There are numbers given on black carbon emitted e.g. during take-off which could be used for some estimates for the overall soot intake into the air. I will try to do that some time soon. $\endgroup$
    – B--rian
    Feb 9, 2021 at 15:13


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