365DaysDate: February 2, 2009

Title: Educational Outreach Activities and Materials for Dark Skies Awareness


Description: The International Dark-Sky Association is combining 20 years of educational outreach on the importance of dark skies for the International Year of Astronomy Dark Skies Awareness Cornerstone project. This podcast will present the programs available, for free, from both the IDA and Dark Skies Awareness Web site to assist advocates in their education outreach programs.  Focus is on “The Great Light Switch Out” program, the International Dark Sky Communities, Parks, and Reserves program, Astronomy and Wildlife Education for Elementary School, and Traveling Displays, Posters, and Brochures.

Bio: Kim Patten is programs director for the International Dark Sky Association.  Established in 1988, the International Dark Sky Association is an educational, environmental 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to protecting and preserving the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting.  With thousands of members in more than 70 countries, IDA is the leading authority concerning the problems and solutions related to light pollution.

  • We work to stop light pollution’s adverse effects, raise awareness about those adverse effects and their solutions, and educate about the values of quality outdoor lighting.
  • We work directly with lighting companies to explore new avenues of technology and create products that are energy efficient and fully shielded — that direct the light downward, where it is needed, rather than upward, where it contributes to sky glow and other forms of light pollution.
  • We offer information and advice to activists and citizens concerned about light pollution in their community by proposing a number of approaches to regional legislation. Our Lighting Ordinances page offers a comprehensive look at light pollution laws around the globe.
  • Educational and outreach tools including free lesson plans, activities, brochures, and PowerPoint presentations are available for download.
  • IDA volunteers form Sections to advocate for natural night skies in a specific region.

Our unified approach supports the individual and collective efforts of our members and others who advocate quality outdoor lighting.  We work with communities, astronomers, ecologists, and lighting professionals at the local, national, and international level

Today’s Sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by Greg Williams, dedicated to his fiance Amber.


This is the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast for February 2, 2009.  I’m your host Kim Patten from sunny Tucson, Arizona.

The International Dark-Sky Association is thrilled to be a part of the Dark Skies Awareness cornerstone project for the International Year of Astronomy.  We look forward to working with worldwide education and awareness organizations to protect the breathtaking natural resource that makes the study of Astronomy possible.  We hope that everyone will take part in IYA and in making our skies a little darker to help us all enjoy the stars.  A full list of the Dark Skies Awareness projects can be found on the IYA Dark Skies Awareness Web site at or at under “Events” then “IYA2009.”

IDA prides itself in our ability to act as a clearinghouse of the lastest information and research on light pollution.  We gather scientific and technical news and distribute this knowledge all around the world. Many of our grass roots volunteers advocate for night sky protection by educating others on the issues of light pollution. As such, the first program that we have created for IYA is traveling displays and exhibits, a fun and colorful form of outreach accessible to all ages. .

Education about the importance of our night sky spans culture and language. Inspiring scientific advancement among young and old alike is truly a positive and heart rendering experience. When someone first sees the rings of Saturn or the Apollo 11 landing site it acts as a catalyst to remind us of the importance of astronomy and night sky exploration. The stars have inspired art, architecture, literature, and of course, science for centuries. Unfortunately, this inspiration is rapidly being destroyed.

One of the primary factors of our disappearing night sky is improper illumination. However, not only does poor quality lighting and design affect our view of the heavens, it can also destroy our surrounding environment, waste energy, threaten our safety, and even harm our health. In order to communicate the importance of a natural night environment and quality outdoor lighting throughout the world, we have created simple downloadable posters discussing the importance of dark skies.

The downloadable posters are available in standard paper sizes with high resolution images. They are scaled in such a way that a local print shop can easily expand these posters from homemade displays to more professional poster presentations. The displays are designed to be image rich with few textual additions. This is to ensure their use throughout the world in a language neutral environment. These exhibits are basic tools to be used by dark sky enthusiasts everywhere. Everyone who wants to can become an “expert” and share these posters. Lots of additional information can be found in practical guides and information sheets, available on the IDA Web site under “Get Help” tab. Subject-specific companion brochures in English, also available for download, provide take-home material to go with the posters.

These brochures are designed to be printed from home for use in civic presentations, planetarium displays, and other public events. Individuals are welcome to translate the brochures into their native language for distribution; we only ask that if you do translate the brochures, that you share them with us so that we can upload these and make them publicly available as well.  Contact us any time at or call us at 520-293-3198.  We’ll repeat this information at the end of the podcast so have your paper and pen ready.

Posters and brochures are available on:

  • Wildlife
  • Energy
  • Safety & Security
  • Human Health
  • Astronomy

In conjunction with these traveling displays, IDA has created a number of interactive curricula, lesson plans, and presentations for elementary school children.  These plans try to inspire the natural imagination of children to include a basic astronomy and wildlife overview and how light pollution affects both topics.  Kids will have a great time showing off their knowledge by playing “Shakedown” an electronic question and answer game where participants collect points, or by testing their knowledge through memory games and workbooks that include word searches, crossword puzzles, and other fun hands-on activities.

Well that’s it for this podcast, make sure to check back for great ideas for your next family vacation through the International Dark-Sky Communities, Parks, and Reserves program and on October 24, 2009 for the Great Light Switch Out program, where we’ll help you prepare for Day Light Savings time by promoting the use of dark sky friendly fixtures.

Again, if you’d like to get ahold of us, please contact us at, or 520-293-3198, you can also visit our Web site at

365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by the New Media Working Group of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Audio post-production by Preston Gibson. Bandwidth donated by and wizzard media. Web design by Clockwork Active Media Systems. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at or email us at Until tomorrow…goodbye.