The United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Light to promote global awareness of optics and photonics. From the onset, the IYL project contains a dimension of great importance to the astronomical community, namely, quality lighting (and dark sky protection) for our continuing study of cosmic light and access to it.
The International Astronomical Union’s Executive Committee WG on IYL is chaired by Richard Green who works at Steward Observatory. Richard convened a meeting of Southern Arizona professional observatories approach to IYL which took place on Wednesday, December 3, 2015. The Vatican Observatory was represented by Chris Corbally and me.
The main action point is that we would like to work towards a kick-off event coinciding with Pi Day on March 14 (3/14/15 9:26 pm) which also happens to be Einstein’s birthday. It is a Saturday and very close to the New Moon – a great opportunity for star parties. It also coincides with Tucson Festival of Book on UA campus.
The meeting’s focus was a sharing of information about various initiatives. Richard Green and Connie Walker provided a write-up of the exchange (including a separate meeting in Flagstaff). Below is the material with a lot of www links.
On Thursday, December 4, I had a meeting in Safford, at East Arizona College’s Discovery Park (which has been providing the invaluable service of conducting tours for the general public of the three telescopes on Mount Graham, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, the SubMillimeter Telescope and the Large Binocular Telescope). The Discovery Park is effectively the visitor center for these astronomical facilities which are at a remote site with a special regime of wildlife protection. I am very pleased to announce that we agreed to organize an “open house” and star party on Pi Day.
- Globe at Night event – star party, collect measurements
- IYL website; EPS IYL website (video)
- IDA (IDA-SA) + SPIE (video; events calendar) + NOAO – quality lighting teaching kits – target audience is middle school; problem-based learning
- International Dark Sky Week; Photo Contest in April
- Optics teaching through Galileoscope – supported by Science Foundation Arizona
- Public observing programs – IYL focus on light
- U of A Sky School – middle and high schools 2 to 5-day immersive science programs – astronomy, geology, biology for mountain; could add light for interaction with trees, etc. 700 – 800 students / yr. Staff is PhD students across College of Science
- VC has exhibits – 2000-3000 visitors / year – public tours + individuals
- DarkSkyAwareness a website from the legacy of the International Year of Astronomy 2009
- images from Light Beyond the Bulb or Mt. Lemmon Sky Center for visitor center IYL exhibits
- Amerind Museum in Dragoon area
- S. Arizona section of IDA – demo on night lighting; Desert Museum Saturday evening astronomy nights
- Globe at Night – constellation limiting magnitude chart – measures sky brightness level; open to public 10 days/month
- AOIA – open labs days; international is May, but would do throughout the year
- Scott Kardel at IDA to host statewide IYL astronomy website
- Biosphere 2 astronomical outreach – 100,000 visitors / year
- Forest Service – Sabino Canyon visitor center
- The plan is to break the year into six two-month long themes:
- January – February: Health
- March – April: Astronomy
- May – June: Safety
- July – August: Wildlife
- September – October: Energy
- November – December: Heritage
- IDA will host an IYL page on its website with resources to support the themes. These will include:
- PowerPoint presentations aligned to the themes
- Downloadable (pop-up) displays aligned to the themes
- Downloadable brochures aligned to the themes
- IDA’s Losing the Dark video
- IDA will coordinate a series of live web events (Google+ hangouts that are recorded) for each of the themes. Recommendations for guests are welcomed.
- Other possible links on the website:
- IDA’s S.O.S. kit (light shielding demo) – at least the downloadable script and files
- NOAO’s IYL Quality Lighting Teaching Kit (downloadable online materials midway through 2015 or $100 kits)
- Globe at Night light pollution citizen-science campaign (hosted by NOAO)
- International Earth and Sky Photo Contest (co-hosted by NOAO)
- International Dark-Sky Week (hosted by IDA)
- develop an interactive web tool based on the Earth at night photo (perhaps like this one) that shows off amount of wasted energy for each location.
- Cities At Night citizen science campaign; synergy with VIIRS data