Categories: Astronomy

Join International Dark Sky Week (April 5-11, 2013)

Take the next few nights to celebrate the stars! The International Dark Sky Week is a worldwide event, and part of Global Astronomy Month – going on now! The goals of IDSW are to appreciate the beauty of the night sky and to raise awareness of how poor-quality lighting creates light pollution.

The International Dark-Sky Association says that light pollution is a growing problem: “Not only does it have detrimental effects on our views of the night sky, but it also disrupts the natural environment, wastes energy, and has the potential to cause health problems.”

Here are some ways that the IDA suggests how you can spread the word about IDSW during April 5-11 — as well and all year long:

Join IDA online! Post about dark skies awareness on the social media sites, and you can follow the IDA on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and any other social media you like. And if you would like to become a partner email ida@darksky.org to learn more. See a list of existing partners here.

Check around your home. Make sure your outdoor-lighting fixtures are well shielded — or at least angled down — to minimize “light trespass” beyond your property. Do you have security lights that stay on all night? Consider adding a motion-detector, which can pay for itself in energy savings in just a few months. You’ll find lots of great suggestions in “Good Neighbor Outdoor Lighting” and you can perform your own outdoor lighting audit.

Talk to your neighbors. Explain that bright, glaring lights are actually counterproductive to good nighttime vision. Glare diminishes your ability to see well at night, because the pupils of your eyes constrict in response to the glare — even though everything else around you is dark. Show them this handout.

International Dark Sky Week poster. Image courtesy Sean Parker Photography.

Ask your local library if you can put up an IDA poster showing good and bad lights. Include a photo of the Earth at night, and take some pictures around town that show examples of good and bad lighting.

Become a Citizen Scientist with GLOBE at Night and similar programs, observe light pollution wherever you are and contribute to reports coming in from across the globe about light pollution. Or join GLOBE at Night’s Adopt-A-Street program and ‘map’ light pollution in your community.

Become a Dark Sky Ranger. Teachers and families can do these activities that include an outdoor lighting audit, a game, and hands-on crafts to help visualize the night sky better. In English. In Portuguese.

Attend or throw a star party! International Dark Sky Week is a great opportunity to dust off the old telescope in your attic and use it share in the wonder of the universe with your family, friends, and neighbors. Visit the Night Sky Network to find a calendar of star parties or to find an astronomy club in your area. Click here to find out what’s up in the sky. This activity book is full of great activities for budding stargazers of all ages!

Photograph the sky and enter it in the 2013 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest, run by The World at Night, or photograph some constellations and submit the pictures to the Dark Skies Photo Project to measure light pollution.

Here’s a great video: “Losing the Dark,” IDA’s public service announcement:

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

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