4 December 2014

Connect with the International Year of Light in Seattle

Constance Walker NSF's NOIRLab / IAU CPS

Improving people’s perceptions of science and technology through hands-on experiences are the goals of many UN-sanctioned international years. In 2009 the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) reached millions with innovative programs on astronomy. The International Year of Light (IYL) is in 2015, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) would like to connect astronomers and educators with two themes from IYA: Dark Skies Awareness and Galileoscopes. These are part of the Cosmic Light cornerstone selected for IYL 2015 by the International Astronomical Union and the subjects of a workshop at next month's 225th AAS meeting in Seattle, WA.

For Dark Skies Awareness, NOAO is designing and building Quality Lighting Teaching Kits to encourage the best use of light for illumination. NOAO and its partners — the International Commission on Illumination (CIE); the International Dark Sky Association (IDA); the Optical Society; and SPIE, an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light — are developing this program, building on our work in the last 10 years on lighting and optics education. Our goal is to increase student and public awareness of quality lighting issues and solutions through tutorial videos, Google+ Hangouts, teaching kits, and hands-on activities. The kit materials for the activities will help students identify and reduce wasteful/inefficient lighting, minimizing energy consumption and cost.

The Galileoscope, another Cosmic Light cornerstone project, is a low-cost, high-optical-quality telescope kit introduced during the IYA; to date, more than 220,000 of these kits have been distributed to educators, students, and the public. The Galileoscope gives students the ability to recreate Galileo’s historic observations. The process of assembling the telescope gives students insight into how a telescope works and the principles of optics that a telescopes employs to focus light. NOAO is developing new optics activities to support the use of the Galileoscope during IYL 2015.

Workshop participants will explore the Galileoscope and Quality Lighting kits in new ways and will learn about how these two sets of kits and activities can be incorporated into IYL events at their home institutions. We will also describe some of the other cornerstone projects.

The workshop will take place from 9 to 5 pm on Sunday, 4 January 2015, in room 620 of the Washington State Convention Center. The cost is $100 (which includes a Galileoscope kit and a Quality Lighting kit); to register, fill out the workshop registration form.