The Dark Skies Awareness Programs for the International Year of Astronomy: Involvement, Outcomes and Sustainability

The Dark Skies Awareness Programs for the International Year of Astronomy: Involvement, Outcomes and Sustainability ( pdf)
Dr Constance E. Walker (U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory)
The loss of a dark night sky as a natural resource is a growing concern. For this reason, ‘Dark Skies’ is a thematic cornerstone project of the United Nations-approved International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). Its goal is to raise public awareness of the impact of artificial lighting on local environments by getting people worldwide involved in a variety of dark-skies programs. To reach this goal, activities have been developed that teach about dark skies using new technology (e.g. podcasting, social networking, etc.) and provide thematic events on light pollution at star parties and observatory open houses (e.g. Dark Skies Discovery Sites, etc.), organize events in the arts (e.g. a worldwide photography contest), involve citizenscientists in naked-eye and digital-meter star-hunting programs (e.g. GLOBE at Night, How Many Stars, etc.) and raise awareness about the link between light pollution and health, ecology, safety, economics, energy conservation and astronomy (e.g. The Starlight Initiative, International Dark-Sky Communities, Earth Hour, posters and brochures, etc.). The presentation will provide an update, showcase global events and programs, describe how people can become community advocates and take a look ahead at the program’s sustainability beyond IYA2009. For more information, visit www.darkskiesawareness.org.

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