Dark Skies Awareness Updates

22 May 2009

Dark Skies Awareness Podcast
Connie Walker and Rob Sparks from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory talk about the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) Dark Skies Awareness Cornerstone Project on a 10-minute, audio podcast called "Back to the Dark Ages: Responsible Nighttime Lighting." Dark Skies Awareness is a global cornerstone project of IYA hosted by NOAO. Its goal is to raise the level of public knowledge about adverse impacts of excess artificial lighting on local environments and help more people appreciate the ongoing loss of a dark night sky. Toward this end, a variety of programs and resource materials have been developed. To learn more about the cornerstone project, visit http://www.darkskiesawareness.org. The podcast can be downloaded free at http://365daysofastronomy.org/2009/05/16/may-16th-back-to-dark-ages-responsible-nighttime-lightingby/. All 365 Days of Astronomy podcasts are available at http://365daysofastronomy.org

The Earth and Sky Photo Contest

The photography contest is open to any amateur photographer of any age, anywhere in the world. The special theme of this contest is "Dark Skies Importance"; so the image should impress people about how important and amazing the starry sky is, how it affects our life, and how bad the problem of light pollution has become. The organizers are The World at Night founder, Babak Tafreshi, and Dark Skies Working Group (DSWG) member and IAU Div. XII Commission 50 President, Richard Wainscoat. Details on this program, including the site to submit photos, can be found at www.darkskiesawareness.org.

Dark Skies Discovery Sites

The Dark Skies Discovery Sites (DSDS) program seeks to establish permanent relatively dark locations where the public can be educated about light pollution while being introduced to the wonders of a fairly dark night sky. Astronomy clubs or individuals can earn the official DSDS designation for their location by agreeing to present, mostly at their own pace and schedule, an ongoing series of programs about light pollution. The organizers are DSWG members, Fred Schaaf and Terry Mann, as well as John Goss. Terry and John are officers of the Astronomical League. Fred writes for Sky and Telescope. Details on this program, including the DSDS application, can be found at www.darkskiesawareness.org.

How Many Stars?

How Many Stars is a star-hunting, citizen-science program that encourages everyone - students, educators, astronomers and the general public to measure the darkness of their local night skies and contribute their observations online to a world map of light pollution. Citizen-scientists record the brightness of the night sky by matching its appearance toward the constellation of Ursa Minor in the northern hemisphere and the belt of Orion in the southern hemisphere with charts of different limiting magnitudes. During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, Ursa Minor is at its highest altitude in the night sky. The organization responsible for this campaign is Kuffner Observatory in Austria. Find out more information at http://sternhell.at.

Nights in the Parks
Throughout 2009, many national parks worldwide will be holding special programs in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. Some of the last dark skies in the world may be found in national parks. Many parks like the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) are proud to share the beauty and wonder of the night sky. While the starry canopy will take center stage, event activities are as diverse as the parks. Activities U.S. National Parks include meteor watching, telescope viewing, solar viewing, instruction-al workshops, evening programs, night hikes, nocturnal wildlife watching, tips for protecting dark skies, & storytelling. Visit parks at www.nps.govfor more information. The program is led by Chad Moore and Dan Duriscoe of the DSWG and the U.S. National Park Service. See www.darkskiesawareness.org for more details or www.nps.gov for details within the United States.    

Organisational Associates:

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is endorsed by the United Nations and the International Council of Science.