AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 13 RFI Mitigation and Light Pollution Issues
Poster, Monday, May 31, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Ballroom

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[13.03] Data Mining of Automatic Telescope Archives for Night Sky Brightness Monitoring

E.M. Craine (Univ. Arizona/GNAT)

Automated observatory image archives offer the possibility of using homogeneous data already gathered to gain information and identify patterns of night sky brightness. To test this possibility we examined images from the Global Network of Astronomical Telescopes (GNAT) automated telescope archive and used those images to address trends in local night sky brightness. We found that we could easily monitor night sky brightness changes as a function of time. For the Tucson, Arizona site tested, dark nights showed up to 10% fluctuations in brightness on time scales of about an hour. Since this site is near the city, small fluctuations in cloud cover had a large impact on reflected light. Nonetheless, aggressive Tucson light control measures appear to have had some impact for this site as the sky brightness did not increase measurably over a period of nearly two years. We present examples of the night sky brightness graphs used in this project and outline the data reduction protocol. Automated telescope image archives may prove a plentiful and useful tool for those interested in monitoring night sky brightness.

We acknowledge GNAT for access to its image archive and necessary software tools, and to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) for its support of this project.

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

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