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As I understand 'those' here are 4% from the 1,000 participants. Am I right? If so why do they add 'under dark skies'? Is it necessary to understand why are 'those'? What a part of speech is 'under dark skies'?

According to the results from the 2014 Star Count, 59 percent of the 1,000 participants could see 10 stars or fewer within the four corners, an indicator of severe light pollution. By comparison, those under dark skies — a number that amounted to only 4 percent of participants — could pick out 30 or more stars.

Article - England launches 'cosmic census' to combat light pollution https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/england-cosmic-census-combat-light-pollution

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"Those under dark skies" refers to "those participants who were under dark skies [when they looked for stars]."

You are right that 4% of the participants were in a dark-sky environment. This fact is revealed between the dashes in the sentence.

The phrase, "under dark skies" acts as a multi-word adjective describing "those". And, yes, that phrase is absolutely necessary to understand who "those" 4% are. That is the phrase that defines them. Without it, those 4% of participants would be unspecified except that they saw more stars than the others, and the whole sense and purpose of the quoted statement would be lost.

  • It is a new turn for me. I figured that 'under dark skies' is extra even mislead somehow adjective because we have between the dashes - 4 percent of participants (the 1,000 participants) what is enough to know what are 'those'. And why 4 percent of (no the?) participants without 'the'? – Vitaly Feb 14 '19 at 16:51
  • In situations like that, the definite article is entirely optional. You could say "4 percent of the participants", but you don't need to. In the earlier instance of participants, the definite article is needed because it's the total number, a specified number. – SamBC Feb 14 '19 at 17:05
  • @Vitaly, if the article were just about the variation in visual perception, then saying "4%" would be enough to define what percentage were able to see more stars, but in this case, the whole point of the author is to make a correlation between the 4% who see more stars, and the fact that that particular 4% was looking for stars in a dark sky, so you certainly would not want to leave out the adjective phrase, "under dark skies." – Lorel C. Feb 14 '19 at 20:48

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