I live in a Class-5 night sky on the Bortle Scale, and you cannot see the Milky Way with your naked eye here. I was wondering what Class night sky I would have to be in to see the Milky Way's gas and dust clouds with my naked eye?

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    $\begingroup$ I think you are going to have to define what you mean by "see the Milk Way", because technically if you can see any stars at all you are seeing the Milk Way. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Nov 18 '20 at 4:44
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    $\begingroup$ More suitable for Astronomy $\endgroup$ – StephenG Nov 18 '20 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ According to one UK map, the village where I live is right on the border of the bands labelled "2-4" and "4-8" and I can certainly see parts of the Milky Way on a clear night - unless I look straight at one of the nearby street lamps, of course. So assuming the map as correct, class 4 should be good enough. But that is a very poor view compared with a really dark sky (e.g. from the islands of the west coast of Scotland). $\endgroup$ – alephzero Nov 18 '20 at 4:59
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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because it's more suitable for Astronomy. $\endgroup$ – stafusa Nov 20 '20 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @stafusa & other close voters: According to old meta consensus, astronomy is on-topic at our site. If you think astronomy questions should not be on-topic now that Astronomy is a successful site on its own, please start a meta discussion about it instead of voting to close questions that are currently clearly on-topic. Our tagline is "Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics and astronomy", after all. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Nov 24 '20 at 14:21

According to the Wikipedia article on Bortle scale, at class 5 light pollution

the Milky Way is very weak or invisible near the horizon, and looks washed out overhead

The brightest pollution level where the Milky is visible is described as class 6, bright suburban sky:

the Milky Way is only visible near the zenith.

At higher level, 7, suburban/urban transition,

the Milky Way is nearly or totally invisible.


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