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Paper: Building on the International Year of Astronomy: The Dark Skies Awareness Program
Volume: 431, Science Education and Outreach: Forging a Path to the Future
Page: 103
Authors: Walker, C. E.; Sparks, R. T.; Pompea, S. M.
Abstract: The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) offered opportunities to create exemplary educational programs in astronomy, such as those through the cornerstone project, Dark Skies Awareness (DSA). The preservation of dark skies is important for many reasons including astronomy, energy conservation, wildlife conservation, and even human health. Light pollution is a growing concern, yet it is one of the easiest global environmental problems citizen scientists can address on a local level. The Dark Skies workshop imparted the skills necessary for participants to lead activities at their home institution for conserving dark skies. Workshop participants experienced the hands-on activities, which are suitable for use in a variety of settings including museums, science centers, planetariums, schools, university outreach efforts, and astronomy club events. Participants were immersed in activities that illustrate proper lighting, light pollution’s effects on wildlife, and how to measure the darkness of your skies. Several citizen science projects were highlighted, including GLOBE at Night, the Great World Wide Star Count, and How Many Stars. These programs enlist the help of students and the general public to collect data on the night sky conditions in their community and contribute to a worldwide database on light pollution. The data can be analyzed using various online tools. A CD of activities, a light shielding demonstration, a book, a two DVD set with a planetarium show, and many other resources are included in a Dark Skies Education Kit, which workshop participants received at the close of the workshop.
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