3 January 2014

A Double Dose of Dark Skies in DC

Constance Walker, NOAO, AAS LPRISD Committee Member, Astronomical Society of the Pacific BOD

Attendees at the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, this coming week are invited to attend two special events related to light pollution and observatory site protection:

Workshop — Dark Skies & Energy Kits for Classrooms & Outreach
Sunday, 5 January, 1 to 5 pm, Potomac Ballroom C
The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) has helped develop educational activities about energy efficiency and light pollution. The activities help students identify wasteful/inefficient lighting and describe ways to reduce excess light, a problem not only for astronomy but also for plant, animal, and human health. As part of this program, NOAO developed a Dark Skies and Energy Education kit (DS&EE) containing a demonstration on the importance of shielding lights; different lights, sockets, and diffraction gratings to investigate the efficiency of lights; and a luxmeter, a Sky Quality Meter, and a camera to quantify and calculate the energy, cost, and carbon footprint in a lighting audit. The kit also contains materials for three other activities addressing how light pollution affects wildlife and helping prepare participants for the Globe at Night citizen-science campaign. In this workshop, participants will evaluate the DS&EE kit and activities, providing feedback that will help improve future versions. At the end of the workshop, a DS&EE kit will be raffled.

Splinter Meeting — Observatory Site Protection: Challenges & Solutions
Monday, 6 January, 6:30 to 8:00 pm, National Harbor 3
Three timely topics on light pollution will be featured in this meeting sponsored by NOAO; the AAS Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Frequency Interference (RFI), and Space Debris; IAU Commission 50, Observatory Site Protection; and the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Richard Green (Univ. of Arizona and President of IAU Commission 50) and Jeff Hall (Director, Lowell Observatory) will talk about recent successes and challenges with lighting ordinances and site protection in Arizona. Bob Parks (IDA Executive Director) will talk about the future of outdoor lighting. And Harvey Liszt (NRAO) will talk about how the radio-astronomy community is addressing the most significant challenges it is facing from RFI. These presentations will be followed by an open mic session where participants are invited to provide updates from their own communities, beginning with comments from Doug Arion (Carthage College) about a program on engaging the public through astronomy and nature education through the Appalachian Mtn. Club. Time permitting, Richard Green will moderate a discussion about how the AAS, IAU, and IDA can help communities establish lighting ordinances, what lessons have been learned, what the main challenges are, and what solutions have been recommended.

Please join us for one event, the other, or both!