Invited and Contributed Talks
1. What is Light? ( video: introduction to the talk at Armagh )
Leo Enright, a broadcaster on Space Exploration and Science, explores the history of Ireland’s sometimes tenuous connection with luminosity — while naming and shaming some modern big wicks. He will focus on the importance of continuing public access to dark skies, especially during the present ‘Golden Age’ of astronomy, whilst noting that historically Ireland has sometimes been defined by the absence of light — as why else would the Romans have called it Hibernia?
2. Light Pollution: An Overview ( pdf )
John Mason (South Downs Planetarium, Chichester)
An Introduction to light pollution: its effects, what we can do about it; and why we really need to do something about it!
3. Light Pollution FAQs
Bob Mizon (Coordinator, Campaign for Dark Skies)
This contribution will discuss the ten most frequently asked questions from correspondents to the BAA Campaign for Dark Skies, covering skyglow causes and remedies, crime, the legal aspect of intrusive light, health issues etc.
4. The International Dark-Sky Association: 21 Years of Night-Sky Protection
Kim Patten (Programs Director, International Dark-Sky Association)
The November 2008 edition of National Geographic asked the question “The End of Night?” on its cover. This cover was then translated into dozens of languages and distributed throughout the world, while the article divulged the continuing degradation of the night as the world becomes more urbanized and modernized. The article also described the steps that communities and organizations were doing to ensure that this statement does not become reality. We at the International Dark-Sky Association certainly hope that the answer to the question is “NO!”. 2008 marked the pivotal 20-year anniversary for the International Dark-Sky Association. As we move from being a so-called fringe organization with extremist thoughts into the mainstream it’s necessary to maintain focused on the end goal; preservation and restoration of a natural night environment that is safe for all walks of life. Over the past twenty years we have done much to educate and promote the usage of environmentally friendly outdoor lighting for the preservation of ground-based astronomy, ecologically sensitive regions, energy efficiency, and general nighttime ambiance. In looking ahead to the next twenty years we look forward to not only continuing this education, but moving towards a global understanding of the preservation and restoration of night skies. With a worldwide push for energy efficiency, now is the time to encourage retrofitting of outdated lighting installations. More and more lighting retrofits, from Canada to Slovenia, are showing improvements in nighttime visibility both on the street and of the heavens. The free educational materials and activities available from the IDA, along with advice from activists across the globe help enable and ensure that proper planning for the protection of the night can advance well into the future. It is our intention that within the next twenty years, National Geographic and other publications worldwide are proudly proclaiming “Seeing the Dark”.
5. Intelligent Streetlighting
Sean Noone (Chairman and Managing Director, Superior Electronic Lighting Controllers [SELC] Ireland Ltd.)
The presentation reviews the SELC Candelon streetlight monitoring and control system. Streetlights provide peace of mind and safety at night, enhanced vision when driving, security against vandalism and personal attack, and an invitation to do business and socialise at night in our towns and cities. However, they are costly to maintain and operate. They also consume large amounts of precious energy and manpower in producing and installing spare parts, routine maintenance, identifying faults and dealing with citizen’s complaints. Street lights can consume up to 40% of a city’s electrical energy, with a cost of the order of £1M per 100,000 people every year and a correspondingly large carbon footprint. The talk will show how the specialist control system and the pioneering dimming system for streetlighting developed by SELC can provide significant energy savings and reduction of light pollution.
6. Light Pollution in the Netherlands: Inventories and Movements in Dutch Policy
Dorien Lolkema and D.P.J. Shttps://www.darksky.ie/light-pollution-in-the-netherlands-inventories-awart (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, The Netherlands)
The Netherlands is one of the brightest night-time areas on Earth. This year (2009), national policy on light pollution and protection of the night sky will be formulated. Meanwhile, local government is taking its stand in this political arena on night-time lighting. Diverse inventories are and have been carried out concerning night-time light emission. This presentation will give an overview of these inventories and on movements in Dutch policy concerning light pollution.
7. LED Street Lighting and Light Pollution: New Political and Administrative Actions in Germany
Andreas H¨anel (Osnabr¨uck Planetarium)
LED street lighting is developing very fast, although we do not yet fully understand the technique and its ecological impact. Studies of new test installations in some German cities (D¨usseldorf, Hannover, Stuttgart, Westerkappeln) and some first experiences are reported. Meanwhile, politics and administrative structures in Germany are beginning to recognize the problem of light pollution; here we report on some new developments.
8. Critically Appraising the Alleged Benefits of Lighting on Public Safety: New Results
Paul Marchant (Leeds Metropolitan University)
Much is made of the benefits of lighting for public safety. Lighting is claimed to substantially reduce crime and also road traffic accidents. But are the claims true? I have previously criticised work, which purports to show substantial benefits, for lack of scientific and statistical rigour; for example in the British Journal of Criminology (See www.britastro.org/darkskies/cfds2006/proceedings.pdf and www.radstats.org.uk/no091/Marchant91.pdf). This presentation will update previous work in this field with more recent studies and will show why the lavish claims which are made are still suspect. Furthermore, results from the analysis of other data will be presented. Scientific scepticism remains warranted concerning the alleged public safety benefits of lighting.
9. Shedding Light on Bat Behaviour—How Street Lights Disturb Commuting Bats
Emma Stone, S. Harris and G. Jones (University of Bristol)
Artificial lighting schemes can damage bat foraging habitat directly, through loss of land and fragmentation, or indirectly by severing commuting routes from roosts, polluting watercourses and foraging habitat. The impact of street lighting on bat activity was tested using experiments along lesser horseshoe bat commuting routes at eight sites across Wales and South West England. Hedgerows were illuminated at a mean of 53 lux using two portable high-pressure sodium street lights. Bat activity was recorded using AnaBat remote acoustic detectors. Repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test the effect of experimental treatment on bat activity. Treatment type had a significant effect on bat activity (p 0.01). Contrasts demonstrated that all light treatments were significantly different from controls (p 0.05), demonstrating that high-pressure sodium light has a negative effect on lesser horseshoe bat activity. This study has provided the first empirical evidence of a negative effect of high-pressure sodium lights on commuting horseshoe bats and has significant conservation implications for bat habitat management at sites affected by light pollution. Results from this study will be used to develop evidence based mitigation guidance for bats and lighting in the UK.
10. The Turtle’s Tale— Environmental Impacts of Light Pollution
Sue Christie (Northern Ireland Environment Link, Belfast)
Light is used by many animals and plants as a key cue for carrying out important activities such as flowering, migrating or feeding. As artificial light becomes a more prominent feature of their environment, evidence is accumulating of the negative impacts it has on wildlife. Baby turtles hatching on resort beaches head towards the lit-up resort rather than out to sea — and are eaten by predators before they can correct the error. Migrating birds are disoriented, and at worst fly into the ground or buildings as they try to identify the Moon and stars among a multitude of man-made light sources. Moths fly into street lights rather than feed; breeding cycles of butterflies are disrupted; nocturnal animals are gobbled up by predators instead of being hidden in the darkness. Artificial light disturbs the rhythms of insects and birds, leading to far-reaching consequences in ecosystems throughout the world. Constant light disrupts hormones and hence breeding patterns of frogs and other animals. Nocturnal hunters may benefit by increased light levels, but their prey certainly do not; many animals will not emerge to feed if light levels are too high. Plants too are affected by light— timings of flowering and leaf fall in many species is governed by day length and light levels, germination can be affected by light and the efficiency of photosynthesis can be damaged without true darkness. Algal blooms exacerbated by excess light cause deaths of fish and invertebrates in ponds and lakes. On top of that, some one third of lighting is ‘wasted’ with consequent impacts on climate change and costs, estimated at $2 billion per year in the USA alone. There is an easy solution to all of this—reduce the amount of artificial lighting, especially in the countryside; ensure that the necessary light is produced and used efficiently; restrict lighting to when and where it is actually required by people; and ensure that light is directed only to where it is needed.
11. The Environmental, Social and Medical Implications of Light Pollution
Graham Cliff (University of Manchester) and Colin Henshaw (Tabuk, Saudi Arabia)
Light pollution as a problem has been intensifying over the past forty or fifty years, but only now have the consequences of the problem become to be appreciated. It is a serious problem that requires urgent resolution, and this paper serves to highlight that problem, emphasize its effects and look towards a solution.
12. Globe at Night: An International Citizen-Science Program to Measure Night-Sky Brightness. Involvement, Outcomes and Sustainability
Dr Constance E. Walker (U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory [NOAO]), Steve Pompea (NOAO), David Smith (UCAR), Tom Baker (ESRI), David Orellana (CTIO), Hugo Ochoa (CTIO) and Kim Patten (IDA))
GLOBE at Night is an international citizen-science event encouraging everyone to measure local levels of light pollution and contribute the observations online to a world map. This program is a centerpiece of the Dark Skies Awareness Global Cornerstone Project for the International Year of Astronomy. Its goal is to raise public awareness of the impact of artificial lighting on local environments by getting people involved. Data collection and online reporting is simple and user-friendly. During a 2-week campaign in each spring, citizenscientists take data on light pollution levels by comparing observations with stellar maps of limiting magnitudes toward the constellation, Orion. For more precise measurements, citizen-scientists use digital sky brightness meters. During the campaign period over the last 4 years, 35,000 measurements from 100 countries have been logged. The collected data is available online in a variety of formats and for comparison with data from previous years. We will discuss how the data has been used, provide information to become community advocates, and mention future plans for analysis with other data sets. We will also discuss lessons learned, best practices and plans during the next campaign. For more information, visit http://www.globe.gov/GaN/.
13. Astronomical Research with Small Telescopes in an Urban Environment
Simon Jeffery (Armagh Observatory)
Increasing human activity associated with night-time illumination has an obvious impact on the visibility of the night sky. For the most demanding astronomical goals, the only solution is to observe from remote and protected locations, or from space. There remain many science goals that can be pursued with small to medium telescopes; the use of modern CCD cameras makes these many times more efficient than their counterparts of 25 years ago. The challenge is to make best use of available starlight and weather windows, using a variety of automation techniques. (i) The Armagh Observatory Polar Bear Survey Telescope (PBST) was constructed in 2009 to (a) study variability amongst some 10,000 stars at the North Celestial Pole and (b) to provide a baseline measurement of the night-sky brightness from which to measure future changes in light pollution over Armagh. (ii) The Armagh Observatory Robotic Telescope will be commissioned in 2009/2010 to allow follow-up observations of variable star discoveries, exoplanet timings, solar-system events. This talk will describe the rationale and designs for these telescopes, and show some early data from the PBST.
14. Light Pollution and Sleep
Steven Lockley (Harvard Medical School)
Humans, like many other species, have evolved in the presence of the daily light-dark cycle generated by the Earth’s rotation about its axis. This 24-hour light-dark signal has provided a powerful evolutionary pressure for adaptation to particular temporal niches, for example, adaptation to being day-active (diurnal) or night-active (nocturnal). It is only relatively recently that humans have developed the capacity to generate light. In the last 120 years, however, access and exposure to artificial light at night have become pervasive in all industrialised nations and are becoming increasingly so in the developing world. This light affects all organisms exposed to it, not just humans, and the consequences of such a dramatic alteration in one of the most powerful environmental signals is not yet known. Given its relatively recent introduction, we are only at the beginning of understanding the impact of artificial light on human health. Research over the past 80 years, however, has shown that light exerts very powerful effects on human physiology, endocrinology and behaviour, and, having evolved in a distinct light-dark cycle, it is likely possible that unnatural exposure to artificial light at night is hazardous to human health. This presentation will review the effects of light on human biology and how these effects should be considered for ensuring a healthy light and dark environment.
15. Report from Dark-Sky Camp in Lastovo Island, Croatia
Andrej Mohar (Dark Sky Slovenia)
Lastovo Island is perhaps the darkest spot in Europe, and with the Sun currently within a deep minimum of solar activity the starry sky as seen from Lastovo will be even more brilliant. We plan to reconstruct the lighting at Lastovo to conform with the Slovene light-pollution law. In Slovene municipalities such laws have already reduced energy consumption by amounts up to 60%, and at Zaplana Observatory, just 22 km from Ljubljana, the night sky is already 10% darker — just two years after the adoption of the Slovene light-pollution law.
16. Borrego Springs, California — A Dark Sky Community
James Hoban Rickard (Astronomer, and Member of the Borrego Springs Dark Sky Committee)
On 2009 July 31 the International Dark Sky Association selected the town of Borrego Springs, California, as a Dark Sky Community, a designation not easily obtained. The only other community so designated is Flagstaff, Arizona, the home of Lowell Observatory and a US Naval Observatory telescope. James sat on the committee during the two-year application process. Since he regularly provides free star-gazing programmes for visitors to the desert community of 4,000, he is keen that the village maintain its dark skies. The designation shows that the town meets the minimum criteria, and also provides impetus for local businesses and homeowners to use only appropriate lighting in the future. The talk will describe how towns can benefit by the establishment of lighting criteria by concerned local groups.
17. Dark Sky Discovery Project
Dan Hillier (Royal Observatory Edinburgh, UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, Scotland)
The Dark Sky Discovery Project is seeking to support good practice in astronomy communication and education throughout the UK and Ireland. It is harnessing the inspirational appeal of “Dark Skies” to create new opportunities in this field. It has its roots in the very successful Dark Sky Scotland partnership which was launched by the Deputy First Minister for Scotland in 2007. That partnership has brought new partners, funding and PR to public and school astronomy in Scotland, creating a Dark Sky Team of skilled scientists, science communicators and amateur astronomers to deliver events for audiences in both rural and urban communities. At the heart of its approach are training workshops for teachers, other educators and group leaders to help build their capacity for running activities themselves. Dark Sky Scotland has been particularly successful in working with environmental and outdoor learning organizations. The Dark Sky Discovery project is inviting organizations in other parts of the UK and Ireland to form similar partnerships that build on their own expertise and experience to plan and deliver similar activities in their own area. Some 30 organizations are already involved and the project is raising funds to support a two year programme of activities. www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk.
18. International Dark Sky Park Certification
Kim Patten (Programs Director and Public Affairs, International Dark-Sky Association)
IDA takes great pride in its efforts to protect our nightscape. We also take pride in recognizing others who do the same. Through our International Dark Sky Places program, IDA and its partners certify locations with exceptional nightscapes as International Dark Sky Communities (IDSC), International Dark Sky Parks (IDSP), and International Dark Sky Reserves (IDSR). These locations serve as reminders that with quality outdoor lighting, the extraordinary wonders of the night-time sky and night environment are just as much a part of our lifestyle and history as are the daylight hours. In fact, without the inspiration and wonders of the night-time environment much of the world’s history, art, culture, music, and literature would not have been created. Simple steps in the planning process can ensure a prolonged commitment to the preservation of this natural resource. The IDS Places program includes these methods in order to provide a down-to-Earth yet substantial mechanism for the protection of the night sky.
19. International Cooperation (“IDA Town Hall Meeting”)
Bob Parks (Managing Director, IDA Washington DC Office of Public Policy and Government Affairs) and Friedel Pas (IDA Europe, IDA Board Member)
IDA Board member Friedel Pas and Managing Director of the IDA DC Office of Public Policy and Government Affairs Bob Parks will lead an open forum to discuss the future of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). The discussion will focus on changes that are occurring at the IDA and explore how the IDA can become more international in scope. Attendees are encouraged to bring fresh ideas for how the world can work together to reduce light pollution. During this interactive session we will explore new ways to enhance cooperation with light pollution reform groups around the globe. We will try to identify ways to expand IDA membership, energize participation, and how better to support local sections and initiatives. Friedel Pas will also provide an update on IDA Europe activities and Bob Parks will talk about the creation of the new IDA office of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy in Washington, DC, and its initiatives.
20. IDA Update in Europe
Friedel Pas (International Dark-Sky Association)
The IDA faces a lot of challenges in Europe. The Energy-Using Products (EuP) directive is in progress and the European Standard EN-13201, referring to road lighting standards and performance requirements, is under review with additional parts. The IDA needs to be involved in that. In the past year the IDA has already done several things. Position statements concerning light and human health have been developed, and we participated in the important conferences, such as Starlight 2009. An overview of the most important issues and what these mean for light-pollution developments in Europe will be shown. The IDA is working on several model lighting codes. These are region specific, but it will be interesting to work one out for Europe too, based on the best lighting codes already existing in Europe. There will be time for discussion on this issue and on questions and suggestions for the working of the IDA in Europe.
21. Light Pollution and Possibilities for Curriculum Inclusion
Robert Hill (Northern Ireland Space Office, Armagh Planetarium, Armagh)
The topic of Light Pollution and the nature of the involved subject matters facilitates a multidisciplinary approach to the topic within education systems. Many education authorities globally are either currently considering revisions to their respective curricula or creating task groups to discuss potential options for future educational outputs in line with the educational, skills and employment needs of their region. In Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Space Office has worked with the regional curriculum authority to align the learning potential offered by the topic of Light Pollution to the requirements of the revised Northern Ireland Curriculum. The resulting resources and support materials create a learning environment that encourages school children to recognize the importance of science, engineering and technology in modern industry and society, whilst gaining an understanding of the impact we can have on the world around us. This presentation will outline some of the holistic themes created for the Northern Ireland curriculum and highlight some possibilities for creative development in line with future skills and needs.
22. How Many Stars Can We Still See? 2001–2009
G¨unther Wuchterl, A. Chwatal, M. Reithofer (Th¨uringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Germany)
Visual sightings to estimate artificial sky brightening are well suited for citizen-science activities. We report on the results of eight years activities and focus on a direct comparison of two campaigns in May 2001 and 2009, with more than 2000 estimates in Austria.
23. An Example of Energy and Environmental Education through Light Pollution in High-School Classes in Japan
Nobuaki Ochi (Yonago National College of Technology, Japan)
In Japanese high school classes we have performed an energy and environmental education program through light pollution. First, in this program, facts on the global warming and the energy problem are lectured to students. After some questionnaires, fundamentals of the light pollution and the nocturnal condition of their city are shown by pictures and video clips, followed by discussion on effective use of energy. Details and the educational effect of the program will be presented at the symposium. We will also show a nocturnal outdoor illuminance map measured by high school students using lux meters.
24. Small-Aperture Astronomy in the Modern Era: A Personal Account
Apostolos Christou (Armagh Observatory)
During the past decade, the advent of good-quality commercially available CCD and video equipment has opened up astronomical niches where aperture is no longer the main driver for science-grade measurements. Parallel advances in technologies such as GPS, the Internet, data processing and robotisation have rendered serious astronomical observation much more accessible to the amateur and professional alike. In this presentation, I will provide a historical account of my own experience with small-aperture instruments, mainly dealing with objects in our own solar system. Through these experiences and those of others in the astronomical profession, I will highlight the importance of careful target selection and adequate planning to ensure that the final result justifies the effort. Finally I will show how networks of amateur astronomers can make a real contribution to publication-grade astronomical research if ably directed and coordinated by experts.
25. Looking for Dark Observing Places: Satellite Data and SQM Measurements
Andreas H¨anel (Osnabr¨uck Planetarium)
How helpful are the DMSP satellite pictures and Cinzano’s light pollution maps to find dark observing places in Europe? Since the last symposium, in Vienna, I have visited potentially dark observing places in nature parks in the Austrian Alps, the Eifel, Westhavelland and additional places in Southern France and Spain. Measurements with the SQM and a DSLR are compared with the light pollution maps. The feasibility of nature parks in densely populated regions will be discussed.
26. Dark Sky Monitoring in Hungary
Zolt´an Koll´ath (Konkoly Observatory, Budapest, Hungary), Zolt´an Szegv´ari (Duna-Dr´ava National Park Directorate), Istv´an Gyarmathy (Hortob´agy National Park Directorate), and Andr´as Pint´er (Duna-Dr´ava National Park Directorate)
The Hungarian protected area network almost overlaps with the dark-sky areas. This fact indicates their mission in protecting dark skies, as nature conservation is deeply interrelated with protecting the nocturnal landscape. Our goal was to identify those areas which could be suitable for nomination to be dark-sky parks. Our primary targets are the Zselic Landscape Protection Area and the Hortob´agy National Park. The Ministry of Environment and Water has approved the accentuated inclusion of dark-sky awareness in the management plans. Policy against light pollution will be included in the management plans of all the national parks and protected areas. As a consequence of our efforts, the new Hungarian ‘Law for Protection of Nature’ includes the possibility to control artificial lights in protected areas. A special monitoring program has been started to survey the quality of the night sky using Sky Quality Meters (SQM) and DSLR cameras in the protected areas. We developed a program package to calibrate and display luminance distributions in raw images taken by a DSLR camera. Images, taken by fish-eye lens at different locations, help to pinpoint polluting sources. The main conclusion of our measurements is that the local settlements have only a minimal effect on the quality of the sky. The luminance is only slightly increased in the vicinity of the small villages. There are light-domes due to the neighbouring cities only close to the horizon. We will nominate both protected areas for the ‘Dark Sky Park program’ of the International Dark-Sky Association during this year.
27. Results and Measurements from 4 Years of Light-Pollution Measurements in Holland
Wim Schmidt (Platform Lichthinder, Nederland)
The presentation will describe work carried out in the last 4 years to get data of the night sky in Holland with the help of digital cameras. Results will be presented of some 1500 measurements of an area covering around 40% of Holland. The results are presented in the form of maps for the local governments. The practical problems associated with using digital cameras for this purpose will be presented, also the correcting measurements I have done to obtain the best possible results using this simple method. The different atmospheric conditions are still a concern and I hope to present some possible solutions.
28. Monitoring Night-Sky Brightness with a Lightmeter Network
G¨unther Wuchterl, A. M¨uller and M. Reithofer (Th¨uringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Germany)
We report the first results of continuous measurements of horizontal illumination by the night sky with newly developed lightmeters (see http://lightmeter.astronomy2009), i.e. the instrument formerly known as the Luxmeter. The network is presently spread around Germany and Austria with a few nodes in the Atacama desert. We compare various strategies to quantify the results and to compare with other methods to measure light-pollution.
29. A Simple Scale to Determine the Level of Light Pollution
Thomas Graf and Zdenek Mikulasek (The Observatory and Planetarium of Johann Palisa, VSB-TU, Ostrava, Czech Republic)
This work presents a proposal to determine the relative scale of ‘light pollution. The method is based on a simple analysis of data concerning the level of night lighting measured by a calibrated luxmeter. Such a relative scale can be also used in media for a so-called weather forecast. On the basis of the prognosticated cloudiness and rainfall it enables one to predict how dark the following nights will be. The study is an introduction to a deeper analysis which will be made after a longer period of measuring and getting data from another measuring site located in different environments (this site has been working just for a few months).
30. The ‘Light Pollution Challenge’ Pilot: A 3-D Education Gaming Project
Organized by Robert Hill (Northern Ireland Space Office, Armagh Planetarium, Armagh) with children from the following schools: St. Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt, Co. Derry; St. Patrick’s College, Maghera, Co. Derry; Carickfergus Grammar School, Co. Antrim; Loreto College, Coleraine, Co. Antrim; Belvedere College, S.J., Dublin; St. Dominic’s High School, Santa Sabina, Dublin; De La Salle College, Churchtown, Dublin; and Gonzaga College, S.J., Dublin.
This session will feature short presentations from eight schools that have taken part in the all-Ireland pilot of the ‘Light Pollution Challenge’. Pupils from Key Stage 3 in Northern Ireland (11–14) and Transition Year in the Republic of Ireland (15–16) were tasked to create 3-D environments/games using the topic of Light Pollution as the context for development and the learning outcomes. The objective was to develop a real ‘game’ that other pupils could use to learn about the topic and the different aspects of Light Pollution that impact on society and the environment. The pupils have been given only 3 weeks to prepare their projects, as this is the more realistic scenario that teachers would face in the classroom in developing such a product within the confines of daily curriculum delivery. The pupils will briefly discuss the learning outcomes and skills developed in the course of their game creation and time will be allowed for a quick Q&A to better understand how the pupils have coped with this type of learning in a short period of exposure to the new ‘ThinkingWorlds’ technology. All participants at the conference with an interest in Education and the possibilities flowing from inclusion of Light Pollution as a key interdisciplinary theme in the curriculum are encouraged to attend this parallel session.
31. The Dark Skies Awareness Programs for the International Year of Astronomy: Involvement, Outcomes and Sustainability
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.
32. The IYA2009 UK Dark Sky Parks Initiative
Steve Owens (UK Coordinator for IYA 2009, Glasgow Science Centre, Scotland)
The Dark Skies Awareness cornerstone project of IYA2009 has two main manifestations in the UK. Dark Sky Discovery community projects, and the Dark Sky Parks initiative. Steve Owens will highlight the second of these two projects, and describe the progress of Galloway Forest Park, which is set to submit its application to the IDA before the end of 2009.
33. Public Lecture at Armagh Planetarium: “Exoplanets — The Hunt for the Earth Analogue”
Dr Don Pollacco (Queen’s University Belfast)
Over the last few years there has been unprecedented activity in the area of exoplanetary research. We now know of more than 300, mostly Jupiter-like, exoplanets. For about 60 of these we can characterize their most important parameters (e.g. mass, radius, density) and for a small number we are beginning to detect their atmospheres. The next decade promises to be extremely exciting and it is feasible that the first Earth analogue system could be discovered and characterized (including the search for signs of life in its atmosphere) using state of
the art technology on the next generation extremely large telescopes.