AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 120. Protecting Local Dark-Sky Areas and Sky Brightness as a Part of Education in Astronomy
Special Session Oral, Wednesday, January 9, 2002, 2:00-3:30pm, Georgetown East

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[120.01] Introduction: The Night Sky Back Home

A.R. Upgren (Yale and Wesleyan Universities)

Light pollution is a proper and fitting subject of great concern to all astronomers. Back before 1988, when the International Dark-Sky Association was founded, astronomical concern centered around and was mostly restricted to the large southwestern mountaintop observatories. This is understandable since these largest telescopes demand the darkest possible skies. The IDA was promoted and organized with this goal in mind. Today the IDA numbers almost 8000 members and is dominated by environmentalists and lighting engineers as much as or more than professional astronomers.

Amateur astronomers from skygazers to those with CCD's on their telescopes are now of great importance in the realm of light pollution awareness and control. They are busy in almost every state and province working to pass ordinances restricting the worst in outdoor lighting. For example. Connecticut, a state with little professional astronomical observation, has passed the first law to require FCO (full-cutoff shielding) on every new and renovated street and highway light in the state. The needs of astronomers in places like New England differ from those of Arizona, California, and Hawaii where LPS is much preferred to HPS illumination. In the lesser climates, FCO and lumen constraints are of much greater concern. Almost every state still has very dark sky areas, well worth preserving. It is of the greatest importance for amateurs and professionals to work together to preserve dark skies wherever they are found. Our profession needs for its continued health, places near population centers where the Milky Way can still be seen. Many future astronomers will be brought into the field by the sights of a dark sky. I encourage the AAS to become more active, individually and collectively, in the multitude of efforts now in progress across the continent.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: aupgren@wesleyan.edu

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