Let’s reach for the stars – International Dark Sky Week!

Source: International Dark Sky Association

Source: International Dark-Sky Association

Taking place the week of April 5-11, 2013, International Dark-Sky Week is meant to “highlight” the problems arising from light pollution and its negative impacts on the night sky, ourselves, and the environment. According to the press release from the International Dark-Sky Association there are many ways to celebrate this event as well as Astronomers Without Borders’ Global Astronomy Month.

“Celebrate the stars! Created in 2003 by high-school student Jennifer Barlow, IDSW has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month. 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.”

“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 you can spread the word about IDSW during April 5-11 — and all year-long:

  • Join us Online! Post about dark skies awareness on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media you like. Follow us on FacebookTwitterG+, and/or Pinterest. Find out more about our participating partners. And if you would like to become a partner email  ida@darksky.org to learn out how you can too!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • DownloadWatch, and Share “Losing the Dark,” IDA’s public service announcement. Learn more.”
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4 Responses to Let’s reach for the stars – International Dark Sky Week!

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    Rick, this is cool! Like I mentioned earlier, with “light discipline” being enforced on US military installations in Afghanistan (save Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar) since they’re usually placed in valleys with air strips, thereby risking the Taliban possibly rocketing bases from surrounding mountains, you get a “celebration of dark skies” every night! We use flashlights to move at night, and all buildings have dual entrances so light doesn’t “show outside” when opened (like a PX or an “internet cafe” will stay open its regular hours, closing at 8PM or 9PM, but one can’t “see” the light from the door at a distance, even a few feet away). I never imagined a night sky literally “carpeted” with stars and visible galaxies at night like “over there”. I vaguely remember seeing a similar stunning starlit sky on my Grandpa’s farm in rural downstate Illinois as a “kid”, but that memory faded with “age” till I deployed to Afghanistan with the US Army a couple of years ago. Thanks for this blog!


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