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Starry skies emerge amid life under coronavirus lockdown

As much of the world grinds to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic, people who are living under lockdown have looked up to notice clearer, sparkling night skies. In Europe, the absence of most cars and the closure of stadiums, shops and offices has led to a drop in air pollution and revealed awe-inspiring stars that many living in suburban and urban areas could have never seen otherwise. 

"As people are taking their cars to work less, as industry is shutting down, that fog, that smog is beginning to clear out," Sky at Night magazine editor Ezzy Pearson told CBS News' Roxana Saberi. Pearson, who is also an astrophysicist, said she had not seen the stars this clearly in years.

"A lot of people think you need very expensive equipment, that you need a very high-end telescope … you absolutely do not. All you need is your eyes," she said.

Stargazers like Trevor Pitt, who previously found it hard to capture the night sky with his camera from his home in Southern England, have taken advantage of the lack of global travel.

"There just simply are no airplanes to ruin the photos," Pitt said. The combined lack of air pollution and simple lack of planes in the sky have led Pitt, who said he has been enamored the universe for decades, to spend more time outdoors alone with the night sky. 

"I've actually almost become a vampire because I've spent so much time out at night," he said.

Pitt said gazing at the night sky can help a person understand that even something as large in scale as the coronavirus pandemic is temporary, and that while three months of lockdown is a long time, "it's not forever."

"The moon is still there. The stars are still there," he said. 

Neill Sanders, co-founder of the group "Go STAR-GAZING," said he has had "a lot of people" interacting with them "on social media."

"Loads of people have seen the space station passing over," Sanders said, referring to the International Space Station that orbits Earth. 

For Ezzy Pearson, the sudden emergence of the universe's wonders provide a much-needed connection at a time when many people around the world are feeling isolated. 

"Wherever you are, you can always call someone up and say, 'Hey, let's go outside and look up at the sky,' and you'll be looking at the same thing," she said. "That can bring everyone together."

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