How to participate in International Dark-Sky Week

April 4-10 2010

International Dark-Sky Week for 2009 took place April 20-26. Plan now to participate in 2010, April 4-10.

The key to the success of International Dark-Sky week is participation. The more people there are that turn out their lights, the less light pollution there will be. How can you help the cause? First and foremost, turn out your outdoor lights during the week if this is possible. Also, encourage friends and neighbors to participate as well because it is certainly difficult to see the benefits of turning out your porch lights when the neighbor’s lights are blinding you. This is also very important because only one house with the lights off will not make a difference. Many people must participate. Finally, find out if there are any star parties or events at a local observatory during the week and attend them with friends or family. If there are no events in your area, you can start one or you can simply dust off the old telescope from the attic and enjoy the best show the universe has to offer from your own backyard. Also, now is a great time to look into purchasing dark-sky friendly lighting. Please visit Night Sky Friendly Outdoor Lighting for more information on dark-sky lighting. In addition, see the list below for more ideas about how to make the most of International Dark-Sky Week

Important note about safety: Do not turn off lights that are necessary for public safety such as busy parking lots or busy walk ways. Hopefully these fixtures will eventually utilize the proper kind of lighting, but whether they are or not, they are important for avoiding accidents. When stargazing, carry a red-tinted flashlight so that you can see where you are going without losing your night vision. Also, it is best to go in groups when stargazing in a dark area.

More ideas for participating in Dark-Sky Week

  • If you are an educator, use a day during IDSW to teach students about the night sky and light pollution and perhaps what can be done to ameliorate it. Encourage kids to participate.
  • Write to your local representatives and encourage them to pass ordinances on dark-sky friendly lighting. This is especially important in cities where the lights cannot simply be turned out in order to see the stars.
  • Post flyers about IDSW in your area, encouraging people to turn off their lights and change their outdoor lighting to make the skies darker.
  • Host a star party in your backyard or at another convenient location. Encourage people to bring telescopes, and maybe offer red cellophane with which people can wrap their flashlights.
  • Use IDSW as a family activity. Pack a picnic basket and a large blanket and go with your family to a safe, dark place with a telescope, binoculars, or just your naked eye.
  • If you are an amateur astronomer and you happen to volunteer at an observatory or know someone else who does, plan a public night during IDSW and advertise. Talk briefly about the effects of light pollution on the night sky to the people attending the public night.

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