Citizen Science and Globe at Night to raise awareness of light pollution

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) will be coordinating extensive activities to raise awareness of light pollution through running the Cosmic Light theme of IYL2015, and by partnering in particular with the very successful Globe at Night programme.

Citizen science is a very broad term describing scientific research conducted by amateur or nonprofessional scientists, and is a rewarding and inclusive way to raise awareness amongst the public of many important issues.  Citizen science during 2015 will address several areas, but one in particular will aim to raise worldwide awareness of the problems of light pollution. 

About Globe at Night

Globe at Night (www.globeatnight.org) is an international campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by having people measure night-sky brightness and submit observations from a computer or smart phone. Globe at Night runs every month for 10-days a month in 2014 and 2015.  Students can use the data to monitor levels of light pollution around the world, as well as understand light pollution’s effects on energy consumption, plants, wildlife, human health and our ability to enjoy a starry night sky.

Public involvement in research experiences like these make the point that we have to be better stewards today and teach our children to be better stewards for tomorrow. We have to learn to light more responsibly and explain to the public that the solutions are simple and feasible.  Reducing light pollution saves energy and allows us to appreciate the starry sky that has inspired both artists and scientists in the past, but which we are now in danger of losing.

Connie Walker from the IAU Cosmic Light team

To entice the public to participate in Globe at Night during the International Year of Light, each month will target an area of the world we know habitually contributes during that time. Special concerns for how light pollution affects that area and solutions will be featured on the Globe at Night website (www.globeatnight.org), through its Facebook page, in its newsletter or in the 365DaysofAstronomy.org podcasts we do.

Twice a year there will be a special Dark Skies Awareness day, which will most likely coincide with the global Flash Mob events in mid-March and mid-September, where the public will be invited to take night sky brightness measurements en masse. The International Dark-Sky Week hosted by the International Dark-Sky Association will be featured in April 2015 (www.darksky.org/int-l-dark-sky-week-main) and we will partner with The World at Night to host for a sixth year the International Earth and Sky photo contest (www.TWAN.org/contest). We will also hold a contest that involves taking Globe at Night data – a City of Lights contest for the city with the most measurements.

Contacts

If you are interested in the particular issue of light pollution and dark skies awareness within IYL2015, please contact:
Dr. Connie Walker cwalker@noao.edu

For general enquiries regarding the IAU’s Cosmic Light activities please contact:
Sze-leung Cheung cheungszeleung@iau.org