Dark Sky News Around the World

July 2011

Dark Skies Rangers in Portugal
The Dark Skies Rangers program has its first official Dark Skies Rangers in Portugal. 9 students at a high school (Escola Secundária Maria lamas) in a course for environmental management, have successfully convinced the school board to turn off some spotlights in front of the school. The students received their Dark Skies Rangers certificates on July 9, 2011.
July 9, 2011

May 2011

4th International Symposium for Dark-sky Parks and 4th International Dark-sky Camp
27 June — 1 July 2011 at the Parc Astronomic Montsec, Catalonia, SPAIN
May 16, 2011

11th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky
October 6 — 8 2011 in Osnabrück, Germany
May 16, 2011

February 2011

Lights Out: Tiny Sark Named First 'Dark-Sky' Island
The International Dark-Sky Association has named the English Channel island of Sark its first "dark-sky" island. Read more from NPR.
February 2, 2011

December 2010

Link Between Light Pollution and Air Pollution
Research indicates that glare thrown up into the sky interferes with chemical reactions. Read more here:

December 16, 2010

November 2010

Too Much Light!
Carolyn Collins Petersen, TheSpacewriter, talks about how humans are lighting up the sky, wasting money and chasing away the stars.

Listen to the podcast at the 365 Days of Astronomy website.
November 11, 2010

August 2010

Get Ready for The Great World Wide Star Count
The Great World Wide Star Count encourages everyone to go outside, look skyward after dark, note the stars in certain constellations, and report what they could see online. Star Count is designed to raise awareness about the night sky and encourage learning in astronomy. All the information needed to participate is available on the Star Count Web site. Be sure to download the 2010 Activity Guide (available in 8 languages) to prepare your class for this project.

Participation involves use of a simple protocol and an easy data entry form. During the first three years, over 31,000 individuals from 64 countries and all 7 continents participated in this campaign to measure light pollution globally.

At the conclusion of the event, maps and datasets will be generated highlighting the results of this exciting citizen science campaign. Mark your calendars and plan on joining thousands of other students, families, and citizen scientists counting stars this fall.

The Great World Wide Star Count will be held from October 29 — November 12, 2010. For more information visit http://windows2universe.org/starcount/ or email starcount_info@ucar.edu.
August 26, 2010

July 2010

The University of Coimbra offers a postdoc position in Light Pollution and Dark Sky Preservation
The Portuguese Foundation for Science and for Technology (FCT) has opened the 2010 call for applications for postdoctoral individual grants, one in particular on “Light Pollution and Dark Sky Preservation”. Deadline is September 6. 

For more information, please visit: http://cfc.fis.uc.pt/postdoc_astro.php
July 15, 2010

May 2010

Austrian village seeks UNESCO protection for its starry skies
Nestled in a hollow and surrounded by low hills, the village of Grossmugl, Austria is shileded from light pollution. This small community of 1,600 people just a half hour’s drive from Vienna, is proud of the 5,000 stars the light up their night sky every evening, and they want to protect that view. Wanting to avoid the fate of Vienna, which only sees some 40 stars at night, Grossmugl is seeking to become a UNESCO world heritage site. As astronomer Guenther Wuchterl says, “It’s something for when you are 17, when you lie in the meadow with your girlfriend.”
Earth Times article | StarryNightLights blog post
May 24, 2010

April 2010

The 10th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky: The Science of Light Pollution
2-4 September 2010, Kaposvár, Hungary
You are cordially invited to the 10th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky. The symposium shall take place in Kaposvár, Hungary on September 2-4, 2010. The main goal of the symposium is to exchange views among experts and activists working on the field of light pollution. The scientific program will be divided in several sessions, dealing with all aspects of obtrusive light. A special attention will be given to scientific results on the biological and environmental impact of light pollution and the modeling of obtrusive light. A session is also dedicated to the interaction of architecture with light pollution. More information on the meeting logistics and the call for papers.
April 29, 2010

Reflection of Jupiter in the sea, Lastovo 2009, Photo by M. Smrekar

3rd International Symposium for Dark-Sky Parks and 3rd International Dark-Sky Camp: 6-10 September 2010, Lastovo Island Nature Park, Croatia
In this exciting gathering we are welcoming astronomers, park managers, representatives of international and national (non-governmental) organizations, experts in biology, (eco)tourism, natural and cultural heritage and interested people. Topics to be discussed are light pollution, values of natural night-sky, efforts to include astronomy and the nocturnal side into nature conservation activities and many more. The aim of the symposium is to establish an effective long-term framework for reducing light pollution internationally. The symposium is a five-day event, comprising of lectures, field-trips and night observations at possibly one of the darkest places in Europe. Click here for the announcement and here for the Call for Papers. Please refer to http://www.darkskyparks.org for further information.
April 22, 2010

Photo Contest Winners Announced
2010 April 1: Winners of the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance are announced by The World at Night and Dark Skies Awareness projects. Submissions to the contest had been received during the second half of International year of Astronomy 2009. Submitted photographs were all taken during the year of astronomy and were all created in the “TWAN style”—showing both the Earth and the sky—by combining elements of the night sky set against the Earth horizon with backdrop of a notable location or landmark. The contest was open to anyone of any age, anywhere around the world. About 200 entries were received from over 30 countries. For more information see http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/photo-contest.php.
April 1, 2010

March 2010

Earth Hour 2010
Beginning in Sydney, Australia three years ago, Earth Hour has grown into a global observance. States, large organizations and individual people observed Earth Hour 2010 on Saturday March 27th, as homes, office towers and landmarks turned off their lights for an hour starting at 8.30 pm local time to raise awareness about climate change and the threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions. Collected at the Boston Globe’s Big Picture are a series of before-and-after photographs from this year — which will fade between “on” and “off” when clicked. (This effect requires javascript to be enabled.) Below is one of the images (Las Vegas). For more information on the results of Earth Hour, see www.earthhour.org.

March 29, 2010

Global Astronomy Month
In the next month, from March 27 through April 20, Global Astronomy Month (GAM) invites you to participate in three upcoming events that celebrate dark night skies and promote responsible lighting. (For more information on GAM, see: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/765/)

Earth Hour 2010: On March 27, 2010 at 8:30 pm, millions of people around the world will come together once again to make a bold statement about their concern for climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. Earth Hour symbolizes that, by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in the fight against climate change. In March 2009, during the International Year of Astronomy, more than 4100 cities in 87 countries and over 1 billion people around the world turned off their lights for Earth Hour to demonstrate their commitment to slowing the effects of climate change. Let’s exceed these numbers this year! For more information on Earth Hour, see www.earthhour.org http://www.earthhour.org .

The International Dark Sky Week: From April 4 through April 10, 2010, the International Dark Sky Week celebrates the heritage of the nighttime sky by also encouraging people to turn out unnecessary lights. The event began in 2003 as National Dark-Sky Week in the United States and officially became international in 2009, during the International Year of Astronomy. The key to success is participation.

To participate International Dark Sky Week this year, here are some suggestions:

  • Turn out your outdoor lights during the week whenever safe to do so.
  • Light only when and where needed.
  • Encourage friends and neighbors to do the same.
  • Change out lights to something more energy efficient and shielded if possible.
  • Find out if there are any star parties or events at a local observatory during the week to promote dark skies awareness.

For more information on the International Dark Sky Week, visit www.darkskiesawareness.org/idsw.php http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/idsw.php .

World Night in Defense of the Starlight: On April 20th, 2007 during the first International Starlight Conference, it was agreed to promote annually the World Night in Defense of the Starlight as part of our cultural, scientific and environmental heritage.

Every year on April 20th we remind ourselves of the need to preserve our right to view a dark night sky full of stars and to take steps to prevent its disappearance.

World Night on April 20th is an opportunity to get actively involved in many ways:

  • Switch-off unnecessary lights at night to recover the stars and at the same time save energy and slow down climate change.
  • Organize artistic events or competitions related to astronomical themes.
  • Offer night sky viewing through telescopes.
  • Provide media coverage and public talks by astronomers and dark skies advocates.
  • Identify local areas that warrant dark skies protection.
  • Advocate for local dark sky ordinances.
  • And, in particular, organize events in which children can participate. Our capacity to maintain the right to observe stars is in their hands; it should be the right of future generations.

This year, World Night in Defense of the Starlight falls within Astronomy Week 2010.
March 22, 2010

Get Ready for “Globe at Night”
Sky and Telescope invites everyone everywhere to participate in the worldwide Globe at Night campaign! Here’s your chance to make a world of difference. From March 3rd to 16th, you can record the brightness of your night sky and submit it on-line. It’s easy and fun. Check out: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/85035702.html
March 2, 2010

February 2010

Manmade Light at Night: Perils and Promises Symposium on March 11
The Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting (ICROL) will host with Lewis University a symposium on March 11, 2010 entitled “Manmade Light at Night: Perils and Promises”. The program addresses the effects of light pollution on health, environment, energy consumption, and astronomical observation along with solutions for responsible lighting offered by 2 municipalities: Santa Rosa, CA and Homer Glen, IL. Distinguished speakers include: Steven Lockley, PhD—Harvard Medical; Pete Strasser—International Dark-Sky Association; Mark Hammergren, PhD—Adler Planetarium; Rick Moshier—Public Works Director, Santa Rosa, CA; Margaret Sabo and Edmond Cage, Trustee and Community Development (respectively), Homer Glen, IL; Kate Tomford, Director of Sustainability Office; Illinois Governor Pat Quinn; and ICROL’s Drew Carhart discussing sustainable lighting practices.

The goal will be not only deliver information to a given audience but, with diverse stake-holders in attendence, to foster dialogue, and perhaps action, that bridges the gap between the sayers and the doers.

More information can be found at http://www.illinoislighting.org/. Other webpages on the website worth noting include, terminology, ICROL’s Chicago study, and the symposium page.
February 22, 2010

Gear-up for GLOBE at Night 2010!
Two out of every three people in the United States cannot see the Milky Way galaxy arch across a pristinely dark night sky. Light pollution is obscuring people’s long-standing natural heritage to view stars. GLOBE at Night is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by encouraging everyone everywhere to measure local levels of night sky brightness and contribute observations online to a world map. All it takes is a few minutes to participate between 8-10pm, March 3-16. Your measurements will make a world of difference. For more information, visit the website at www.globeatnight.org.

As part of gearing up for the GLOBE at Night Campaign (March 3-16), check out this 10-minute audio podcast from 365 Days of Astronomy.
February 16, 2010

Dark Sky Awareness Kit visits the Missouri State House
On February 9, 2010 Robert Wagner, International Dark-Sky Association Board Member, visited the Missouri State House to argue for public education of light pollution.  In tow was the Dark Sky Awareness Kit.  (See http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/DarkSkiesRangers/.) As part of his testimony he demonstrated how this simple kit is used to show skyglow, glare and light trespass.  Customized with an inexpensive light meter and various figures such as plastic spiders, little green army men and toy cars, the experiment is fun and entertaining for all ages.  “When people are able to maximize the amount of light on the road and minimize the stray light, they understand how easy light pollution can be remedied.”

More here - including audio highlights of the hearing.  
February 16, 2010

December 2009

Dark Skies Rangers Program is now on-line!
Through the Dark Skies Rangers Program, students learn about the importance of dark skies and experience activities that illustrate proper lighting, light pollution’s effects on wildlife and how to measure the darkness of your skies. A highlight of the program is the citizen science project, GLOBE at Night, which enlists the help of students to collect data on the night sky conditions in their community and contribute to a worldwide database on light pollution. To learn more about the program and its activities, see http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/DarkSkiesRangers/.
December 31, 2009

A New Vision: Science and Tourism under the Stars
The StarLight Foundation has announced a new initiative to encourage the use of Science both as a resource for tourism and an essential part of sustainable tourism practices. The StarLight Tourism Certification System aims to ensure the quality of tourism experiences involving the nightscapes, the view of stars and the cosmos and the related scientific, cultural and environmental knowledge. Read more in their press release.
December 31, 2009

Lights over Mauna Kea, HI
Lighting and Astronomy
Physics Today editors invited one of the co-authors to write a technical article on behalf of the efforts of the IYA2009 Dark Skies Awareness cornerstone project. The feature article “Lighting and Astronomy” by C. Luginbuhl, C. Walker and R. Wainscoat in the December 2009 of Physics Today discusses how the rapid growth of light pollution threatens the future of astronomical observation. The article includes detailed modeling of how light from the ground propagates through the atmosphere and suggests ways to limit the damage.
December 15, 2009

November 2009

International Dark-Sky Association Director’s Award Goes to the IYA Dark Skies Working Groups
Connie Walker (chair) and the working group members of “Dark Skies Awareness” working groups internationally and for the U.S. received an International Dark-Sky Association “Executive Director’s Award” at the recent IDA Annual General Meeting for their work on the U.S. and International IYA 2009 Cornerstone Project “Dark Skies Awareness.” (See http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/contact.php for the lists of working group members.) IYA Dark Skies Awareness has made impacts not only with the project’s programs but also at major conferences worldwide on lighting (CIE) and astronomy (IAU) internationally, as well as the 9th European Symposium on Light Pollution, and recently the Starlight Reserves workshop. Look for Walker’s writing on lighting and astronomy with co-authors Luginbuhl and Wainscoat in the December 2009 issue of Physics Today.
November 30, 2009

Year 7 Students from Australia Win a National Young Scientist Award for their Light Pollution Survey
Year 7 students from a Sydney school won a national young scientist award for their light-pollution survey. Specifically, students in the Redeemer Baptist School (North Parramatta) won the first price of the “NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) 2009 Young Scientists Award” (a nation-wide competition). Over 12 weeks the students measured and mapped light pollution levels in the Sydney Metropolitan Area, comparing results with different locations in the Australian “regional NSW” and around the world acquired using a specially designed website. “The winning students were inspired by the International Year of Astronomy and the school’s CSIRO in-school scientist and astronomer Angel Lopez-Sanchez. They won $5000 in science equipment for the school… The students collected more than 3500 measurements covering 506 Sydney suburbs… Their conclusion is if the issue of light pollution is not addressed then [their] iconic Southern Cross will be reduced to a Southern Triangle when viewed from major cities.”

November 25, 2009

A Dark Skies Video Made by Uruguayan Students
The video represents some fabulous work of a group of students from School 85 in Uruguay, who are defending the right to have a dark night sky. Please share it with your friends. (Some slides were borrowed from a powerpoint presentation of IYA2009’s Dark Skies Awareness cornerstone project.) View Video
November 19, 2009

Quality of Uruguay Sky
Approximately half of Uruguayans cannot see the Milky Way due to light pollution. Upwards directed light from an inefficient use of lighting can be corrected locally. This project works with students and the general public in the country to try to determine what the night sky brightness is from different points in Uruguay by looking at the limiting magnitudes of stars. As a result, students and the general public have produced measurements of the quality of the night sky for parts of Uruguay. It is the local version of the GLOBE at Night campaign from the IYA2009 Dark Sky Awareness cornerstone project: Calidad de cielo URUGUAY
November 19, 2009

First International Dark Sky Parks Announced in Europe
Congratulations to Scotland’s Galloway Forest Park and Hungary’s Zselic Landscape Protection Area, the first International Dark Sky Parks in Europe! IDA is proud to recognize the lighting retrofits, public education, and ongoing protection efforts that enhance the natural wonder and reclaim the ongoing heritage of dark starry nights in these unique regions.

Read more on Galloway Forest Park: Galloway Forest Park has been officially unveiled as the first Dark Sky Park in the UK

Read more on Zselic Landscape Protection Area: Dark Sky Park Program in Hungary
November 19, 2009

A Dark Skies Video Made by Chilean Students
Here is a video in Spanish (with English subtitles) translated from the children’s story by author Bob Crelin called “There Once Was a Sky Full of Stars”. The story is on light pollution, the efficient use of the energy and the incentive to be good stewards in the care of our environment. 

The video project was spearheaded by Maria Rebeca López, a teacher at the Colegio Carlos Condell de la Haza School in Chile, and her group of students, as well as assistance from the CADIAS (a center of astronomy education near La Serena, Chile) and the Education and Public Outreach group of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory.
November 18, 2009

IYA2009 supporters urged to sign Welsh dark skies petition
Unlike most of the UK, Wales still has some areas free from light pollution, where the stars can be seen in all their glory. Members of Cardiff Astronomical Society have been working hard to protect these areas, by holding an exhibition at the Senedd of the Welsh Assembly, and presenting a seminar for Assembly Members with world-renowned speakers. They are currently organising a petition to the Welsh Assembly to bring attention to the dangers of light pollution and the need for clear guidelines. If you would like to help, please visit the Assembly web site and sign the petition. You do not need to reside in the UK to sign. Registration is necessary but e-mail addresses are only used for logging on, and will not be disclosed. The Assembly fully adheres to data protection requirements and is statutorily bound to debate all petitions.
November 13, 2009

A Star Counting Campaign in Spain for Dark Skies Awareness
The IACO campaign, the Spanish initiative for Dark Skies Awareness lead by the Amateur Astronomical Association in Málaga (Sociedad Malagueña de Astronomía), is extending a second phase of the Observation Campaign during the European Week of Science and Technology 2009 between November 9th and 19th. Their primary goals are

  • To emphasize importance of preserving the nocturnal dark skies and the negative consequences of lighting irresponsibly.
  • To obtain a map of Spain of the dark sky oases as well as places where the light contamination is greater.

To participate in the campaign to create the map involves a few minutes of counting stars. The process is very easy. Information on the dates for observation, the constellation charts, and registration for the observations can be found in English, and in Spanish.
November 4, 2009

IYA2009 and dark skies raised in UK Parliament
The British Prime Minister has been quizzed by David Heathcoat-Amory, representative for Wells, over IYA2009 and the Campaign for Dark Skies. Heathcoat-Amory asked whether the Prime Minister agrees that lights in public places and 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister's residence) should be turned off or dimmed.

See the question and response here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO6hwPud5YY
November 2, 2009

Dark Skies Ranger Campaign
The Dark Sky Awareness (DSA) and the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP) decided to launch a joint effort: "Dark Skies Ranger Campaign", for the new school year joining both cornerstones' goals. Students will enhance their awareness of the growing light pollution problem, learn how to assess this problem and at the same time engage in the use of the science research method and techniques to evaluate it.

For more information view theIYA Update.
November 2, 2009

October 2009

White House Star Party Kicks Off a Busy Season of Astronomy Events

A bountiful fall harvest of astronomy events kicks off this week with a star party at the White House. On Wednesday evening, October 7th, professional and amateur astronomers will set up more than 20 telescopes on the White House lawn to give President Obama, his family, and a group of lucky middle-school students an up-close-and-personal look at lunar craters and mountains, the giant planet Jupiter and its moons, and other celestial wonders. The event coincides with the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first glimpse of the heavens through a telescope, a milestone being celebrated worldwide throughout 2009, declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009).

According to a statement issued on October 2nd by the White House press office, the star party is being held “to highlight the President’s commitment to science, engineering, and math education as the foundation of this nation’s global technological and economic leadership and to express his support for astronomy in particular— for its capacity to promote a greater awareness of our place in the universe, expand human knowledge, and inspire the next generation by showing them the beauty and mysteries of the night sky.”

The gathering has been organized by the White House, the Office of Science & Technology Policy, and NASA. But the idea originated with Chicago-area amateur astronomer Audrey Fischer and has been actively promoted for six months by the U.S. IYA2009 team. “We’re delighted that President Obama will take a break from his pressing terrestrial concerns to personally witness some of the same celestial spectacles that Galileo first studied 400 years ago and that revolutionized our understanding of the universe and our home planet,” says astronomer Stephen M. Pompea of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). Pompea is U.S. IYA2009 Program Director and will attend Wednesday’s star party.

President Obama will kick off the event with a brief address that will be streamed live on the White House website and on NASA TV around 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Even if clouds or rain intervene to prevent telescopic viewing, attendees will still have plenty to do. The star-party program features interactive planetarium presentations and hands-on activities such as the construction of scale models of the solar system, simulations of impact cratering, and investigations of meteorites and Moon rocks.

The White House Star Party is just one of many family-friendly astronomy events and activities happening this fall. Among the others are these:

More information about the International Year of Astronomy 2009 is available at these websites:

October 7, 2009

September 2009

Great World Wide Star Count!
Join thousands of other students, families, and citizen scientists counting stars in 2009 for the Great World Wide Star Count! This international event encourages everyone to go outside, look skywards after dark, count the stars they see in certain constellations, and report what they see online. This Windows to the Universe citizen science campaign is designed to encourage learning in astronomy. The Great World Wide Star Count will be held October 9—23, 2009!

For more information visit www.windows.ucar.edu/starcount or contact starcountinfo@ucar.edu
September 29, 2009

August 2009

IAU Resolution B5—In Defence of the Night Sky
The members of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on Thursday, August 13, voted unanimously to approve a resolution in defense of the night sky and the right to starlight. The initiators of the resolution were the IAU Executive Working Group, the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone Project Dark Skies Awareness Working Group, the members of the Starlight Declaration, and the IAU Division XII/Commission 50 Working Group on Controlling Light Pollution. Read the Resolution.
August 17, 2009

Regione Veneto in Italy approves a law promoting no upward-directed light! (Fabio Falchi)
Regione Veneto was the first Italian region to enforce a law against light pollution in 1997. Being the first, the law had room for future improvement. One area that needed improvement allowed up to 3% direct upward flux from luminaries. After more than 10 years (and in the International Year of Astronomy) Veneto is substantially upgrading its laws and the new law now recognizes the importance of 0% upward-directed flux, as in ten other Italian regions, starting from the most populated one: Lombardy.

Galileo used his telescope for the first time in Veneto and now Veneto is making a huge step forward in protecting the night sky and night environment. Read more.
August 13, 2009

July 2009

Big Aussie Star Hunt
The Big Aussie Star Hunt website has just gone live! It is a multimedia website and citizen astronomy project developed for Australian National Science Week to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy. It is based on global light pollution projects such as Globe At Night and Great WorldWide Star Count and aims to not only help people understand light pollution but get to know their night sky. All you need to do to take part in the star hunt is find Scorpius and match what you see in the sky with one of our magnitude charts. This will tell us how much light pollution is in your local area. Once you’ve completed the survey, enter our competition by telling us which constellation you would like to rename, what you would call it and why. The first campaign will open August 15 through 23.

See http://www.starhunt.net.au for more information. See also this video on YouTube.
July 31, 2009

Good news for dark skies in Wales, UK
The Welsh Assembly has voiced its support for dark skies. They have officially stated that the Assembly:

  • Supports the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies
  • Regrets the cost of poor artificial lighting to the environment and ecosystem
  • Acknowledges that the quality of many people’s lives is seriously degraded by poor-quality exterior lighting
  • Calls for a nationwide campaign to discourage floodlighting, over-bright and poorly directed light
  • Calls on Visit Wales to promote the aesthetic and scientific value of dark sky in Wales.

Read More…
July 24, 2009

News from Poland
Summary page (PDF in English) | Web site (in Polish)
July 22, 2009

Measuring the Night Sky Brightness to understand the problem of Light Pollution in Hong Kong
Light pollution, caused by excess night time lighting, is quickly becoming a severe environmental problem worldwide. Researchers at the Department of Physics of The University of Hong Kong carried out the first comprehensive survey of the condition of light Pollution in Hong Kong, namely A Survey of Light Pollution in Hong Kong, in the past 15 months. Utilizing almost 2000 sets of night sky brightness data from over 200 different sites in Hong Kong, the study exposed the seriousness of the problem: the Hong Kong night sky is over 500 times brighter than a pristine night sky! Read more…
July 7, 2009

2nd Symposium for Dark-sky Parks and 2nd Dark-sky Camp
14—19 September 2009, Lastovo island, Croatia

The symposium provides both a setting for individuals to present their knowledge or attend presentations by leading experts in the light-pollution field, and creates an opportunity for networking, collaboration, sharing of information and the building of trust relationships. Symposium will bring together managers of protected areas, experts in biology, (eco)tourism, natural and cultural heritage, lighting industry and others to further the action plan on reducing light pollution. The symposium is a five-day event, comprising of lectures, field-trips and night observations. Read more…
July 5, 2009

An important step forward for the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative and the Starlight Reserves proposal (Cipriano Marin)
On June 24, 2009, the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative and the Starlight Reserves proposal were presented to the delegates of several countries in the framework of the 33rd Session of the World Heritage Committee held in Seville (Spain). This has been an important step towards the recognition of cultural, scientific and environmental values associated to astronomy and the right to observe the stars as a common heritage of humankind. The event allowed the Committee to formally present the Starlight Reserve concept. The digital and final version of the Starlight Reserve Guidelines publication that was presented in Seville can be found here. Also noteworthy is the big step forward made by both the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative and the Starlight Reserves proposal, through the recognition of their associated values by the World Heritage Committee. More information on the Seville event is available.
July 3, 2009

News from Canada: Areas within Two National Parks Earn the Dark Sky Preserves Designation (Update from Robert Dick)
This summer, the RASC has designated another two permanent Dark Sky Preserves (DSPs). They both have exceptional skies and are located within two National Parks: The Kouchibougauc National Park (239.2 km2) in New Brunswick, and the Bruce Peninsula / Fathom Five Marine National Park (267 km2) in Ontario between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. This brings our total to nine.

Two more applications this year may be coming from New Brunswick. There is generally very limited light pollution in the province because it is sparsely populated (750,000 people) yet with an area about that of West Virginia.

Conservation Authorities and Land (and water) Stewardship organizations are particularly receptive to the message to reduce light pollution. Although astronomy catches their attention, the impact of light pollution on wildlife (scotobiology) is the impetus that coaxes them into action. The impact of their property and shoreline lighting comes as a surprise to most people, but their corrective action is swift. Scotobiology is also proving to be the main driver behind the DSPs in our Federal Parks.
July 2, 2009

News from Austria: A Campaign and Light Meters to Monitor Dark Skies (Update from Guenther Wuchterl)
Join thousands of other citizen-scientists hunting for stars during the International Year of Astronomy’s “How Many Stars” campaign to preserve and observe the nighttime sky! “How Many Stars” encourages everyone—students, educators, and the general public—to measure the darkness of their local skies and contribute their observations online to a world map. One of the main constellations used to measure the night sky brightness, Ursa Minor, is high in the northern sky this summer. So come participate now! For more information, visit http://starlit.astronomy2009.at. Also more translators are needed for these webpages. Translations can be done easily online at the website.

Newly developed light meters will continuously measure the night sky brightness at many locations around the globe to monitor changes and provide an unbiased reference for the unaided eye measurements within constellations. Adopt a light meter and record the brightness of the night sky in your city, at your school or at your observatory. You need: (1) a computer with USB and Windows XP/NT/2000, (2) a place with a good view of the sky within 20 meters of the computer, and (3) about 100 Euros for the light meter. Contact Verein@Kuffner-Sternwarte.at to adopt a starlight meter! For more information, visit http://wiki.sternhell.at.
July 2, 2009

June 2009

News from Japan: Japan’s Candle Night
Japan’s Candle Night initiative simply suggests that people switch off their lights for two hours, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. on the night of the summer solstice to enjoy some time by candlelight. On June 21, 2009, major facilities and businesses in Japan turned their lights off from 8 to 10 pm. This year’s summer solstice also marks the sixth anniversary of an event called Candle Night since it was started in 2003. The idea of holding Candle Night in Japan, where people turn off their lights and light candles in unison, was originally inspired by the Voluntary Blackout movement in Canada, launched in 2001. Read More
June 26, 2009

News from Hong Kong: Hong Kong Dims the Light Fantastic
Green activists have claimed a victory in their battle against light pollution, saying the sky above Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong was 60 per cent darker than normal last night during the two-hour Dim It Brighten Up campaign on June 21, 2009. In the first Dim It campaign last year about 140 buildings took part, making Victoria Harbor 32 per cent dimmer than usual, according to the organizers, the Friends of the Earth. June 21 was chosen because it is the summer solstice and marks the start of peak electricity usage. Read More
June 26, 2009

News from Brazil: Brazil’s Citizen-Science Milky Way Marathon
Brazil is holding a “Milky Way Marathon”—a national star-hunting citizen-science campaign that serves as a reminder that the Milky Way is becoming less and less known by Brazilians as a result of increasing light pollution in the country. Read More
June 25, 2009

May 2009

Dark Skies Awareness Podcast
Listen to the Dark Skies Awaresness podcast, “Back to the Dark Ages: Responsible Nighttime Lighting,” from the 365 Days of Astronomy web site on May 16, 2009.
May 15, 2009

The fight against light pollution continues in France…
The 3rd National Dark Sky Congress of France on “Night Environment Protection” will take place in the Midi Pyrenees Region during the 2009 International Year of Astronomy. The congress will be a place of pragmatic and constructive informational exchanges addressing light pollution issues with people and specialists coming from various technical, scientific, professional horizons. This 3rd national congress for the Protection of the Sky and the Night Environment is organized by Licorness, La Ferme des Etoiles, L’Association Nationale pour la Protection du Ciel et de l’Environnement Nocturnes (A.N.P.C.E.N) and the town of Fleurance. The conference will take place in the town of Fleurance in France over three days, October 23, 24 and 25 2009. The deadline for sending abstracts will be on September 1st and the final inscriptions will be closed on October 1st, 2009. For additional technical information (Conferences, updated schedule of speeches, news, and more) visit the Licorness internet website.
May 10, 2009

April 2009

Seventh Annual Dark-Sky Week Celebration
International Dark-Sky Week will occur from April 20 to April 26, 2009. This event began as National Dark-Sky Week in the United States in 2003, endorsed by the International Dark-Sky Association, the American Astronomical Society, and the Astronomical League. This year, the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) “Dark Skies Awareness” Global Cornerstone Project is also endorsing the event on a global level as the International Dark Skies Week (IDSW), part of IYA’s dark skies preservation efforts. The first night of IDSW will coincide with the Starlight Initiative’s “World Night in Defense of Starlight.” Find out more at http://www.ndsw.org/.
April 10, 2009

March 2009

Earth Hour Logo Earth Hour
Join millions of people in cities across the world in turning off unneeded lights for 1 hour this Saturday, March 28, from 8:30-9:30pm, to make a highly visible global statement in support for action on climate change, energy conservation and light pollution. Find out more about Earth Hour at www.earthhour.org.
25 March, 2009

The Ninth European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky will be launched at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, on 16th September 2009 and will then take place from the 17th to the 19th September 2009 in the Market Place, Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The symposium will primarily focus on the following areas:

  • Astronomy
  • Wildlife, Energy and Environment
  • Education
  • Health
  • Luminaire technologies and design
  • Policy and Public lighting

Submit abstracts, up to 200 words, via email to submissions@lightpollution2009.eu no later than May 30th 2009.

Further Symposium details and pre-registration is available on the website — www.lightpollution2009.eu
24 March, 2009

Dark Sky Discovery
The first two events in the Dark Sky Discovery programme have taken place in England. Professional and amateur astronomers, planetarium presenters, educators and open space managers gathered for a workshop at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum to form the West Midlands Dark Sky Partnership and to develop a programme that will involve community groups in their local dark skies as windows into the universe. The Yorkshire Dark Sky partnership launched its programme at the Yorkshire Planetarium. The Dark Sky Discovery project, led by the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, is bringing together some 50 organisations to form 12 Dark Sky Partnerships, covering all parts of the UK and Ireland, as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009.
13 March, 2009

GLOBE at Night: Shed Light on Light Pollution! (Podcast)
Two out of every three people in the United States cannot see the Milky Way galaxy arch across a pristinely dark night sky. Light pollution is obscuring people’s long-standing natural heritage to view stars. GLOBE at Night is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by encouraging everyone to measure local levels of night sky brightness and contribute observations online to a world map. All it takes is a few minutes to participate between 7-10pm, March 16-28. Your measurements will make a world of difference. More information.
6 March, 2009

Starlight Reserves and World Heritage Workshop
The International workshop “Starlight Reserves and World Heritage: Scientific, Cultural and Environment Values” will be held on the island of Fuerteventuura on 10-11 March 2009. This meeting is part of the cycle of the UNESCO-World Heritage activities “Astronomy and World Heritage: across time and continents”, launched within the framework of the World Heritage Initiative on Astronomical Heritage during the celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, IYA2009. More information.
2 March, 2009

February 2009

2nd International Symposium on Dark-Sky Parks
We are most pleased to announce the 2nd International Symposium on Dark-Sky Parks that will take place between 14 and 19 September 2009 at Lastovo Islands Nature park, Croatia. This is a unique event that provides your institutions and you individually to take part in a milestone process in nature conservation—in establishing an effective long-term framework for reducing light pollution internationally. Symposium participants are site managers, representatives of international and national (non-governmental) organisations, experts in biology, (eco)tourism, natural and cultural heritage, lighting industry, etc. The Call for papers, inviting the abstracts to be submitted by 3 May, is available at http://www.darkskyparks.org/. Further information, such as a provisional agenda, participants cofirmed, travel information, etcetera, will be available on the conference website.
23 February, 2009

New Zealand town is in the dark — and proud of it
TEKAPO, New Zealand — This little town is in the dark and proud of it. Where other places greet the night by lighting up their streets and tourist attractions, this one goes the other way — low-energy sodium lamps are shielded from above, and household lights must face down, not up. The purpose: to bring out the stars. More from the Associated Press…
8 February, 2009

Young Astronomers Study the Night Sky — and Collaborate with Peers Online
For the first time in human history, more than half of the world’s inhabitants live in cities, where they’re surrounded by bright lights that obscure their view of the stars. Astronomers worry that this disconnection from the night sky not only diminishes people’s appreciation of a valuable natural resource — one that has inspired scientists and poets alike for millennia — but also poses health concerns, such as disruption of sleep cycles. More from Edutopia…
4 February, 2009

January 2009

It’s good to be in the dark
Most of us don’t realize what we’re missing when we step outside at night. At best, a few dozen stars might be visible through the city haze. But if you’ve ever driven through open farmland or stood on an island beach, you know how miraculous it is to see the stretching arm of our galaxy wash the sky in silver. More from the Tucson Citizen…
26 January, 2009

Dark Sky Star Party
As a fun kickoff for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, the UH Institute for Astronomy sponsored a Dark Sky Star Party at the Visitor Information Station (VIS) at the 9300 foot elevation of Mauna Kea on Thursday, January 15, from 5:00-10:00 pm. The event brought awareness to the importance of maintaining Hawaii’s dark night skies, while showcasing some of the jewels therein through telescopes set up at the VIS. More from Astro Today…
15 January, 2009

Nightscape Magazine, the quarterly member publication of the International Dark Sky Association, features several stories about the International Year of Astronomy, including an article on the Dark Skies Awareness cornerstone. See issue #75 at the IDA web site.
01 January 2009

Starting this month and running the entire year: “How Many Stars?” is an IYA Dark Skies Awareness citizen-science project for anyone anywhere to measure sky brightness and contribute the observations on-line to a worldwide map of light pollution. Take a few minutes to be a part of a local solution to a global problem; visit http://starlit.astronomy2009.at/.
01 January 2009

From 2008

Scotland prepares to host Europe’s first ‘dark sky park’—From the car park in the foothills of the Range of the Awful Hand, it is a short walk to what may be the darkest place in the country. Drive up here after sunset and you are unlikely to set eyes on another soul, yet the site is famous among a small group of enthusiasts who come here in the black of night to stand, watch and wonder. The patch of ground in the imposing row of mountains is surrounded by 300 square miles of moorland, woods and lochs that form the rugged wilderness of Galloway Forest Park in southern Scotland, and in a few weeks, officers at the forest will take steps towards making it Europe’s first official dark sky park. Read more from Friends of the Environment.
24 December 2008

The Candle Night campaign suggests spending time in more natural light, away from everyday life and artificial lighting. It’s not a movement asking people to turn off their lights necessarily, but it has spurred people and organizations to do just that as a result. For more information, see http://www.candle-night.org/english/.
21 December 2008

Listen to this Cosmic Radio news segment on Quiet Skies (Dark Skies analog for Radio Astronomy) [2.32 MB mp3 file].
December 2008

View the trailer for The Dark Side of Light, a 50 minute documentary on Light Pollution, produced in Germany.
December 2008

The New York Times has published a video opinion piece, In the Dark, How turning the lights off could help New York’s pending budget gap.
19 November 2008