Podcasters: Carmen Austin, Lindsay Small, Daniel Tellez, Becca Levy, Chuck Dugan, and Zach Watson, Connie Walker (organizer/advisor)
Title:Our Dark Night Rises
Description: With half of the world’s population now living in cities, many urban dwellers have never experienced the wonderment of pristinely dark skies and maybe never will. This loss, caused by light pollution, is a concern on many fronts: safety, energy conservation, cost, health and effects on wildlife, as well as our ability to view the stars. Even though light pollution is a serious and growing global concern, it is one of the most straightforward environmental problems people can address on local levels. To learn how you can get involved in dark skies preservation and energy conservation, join us for this podcast as the Dark Night combats a new super-villain, Lighting Evil Doer and her sidekick Candesce. Will the Dark Night be able to use Globe at Night to overcome Lighting Evil Doer’s plan?
Bio: Becca Levy, co-author of this podcast and the voice of Candesce, is currently a junior at the University of Arizona, double majoring in Astronomy and Physics with a minor in French, She also works as a special projects assistant in the Education and Public Outreach Department at NOAO.
Zach Watson, co-author of this podcast and the voice of the citizen, is a sophomore at the University of Arizona studying Physics and Astronomy.
Carmen Austin, playing the part of Donna/The Dark Night is an undergraduate student in General Studies at the University of Arizona. She also works as a public observing program guide at Kitt Peak National Observatory, as well as an instructional specialist at the UA Steward Observatory.
Lindsay Small plays the role of Lighting Evil Doer. She is a special projects assistant at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and a junior at the University of Arizona studying engineering management and minoring in astronomy.
Daniel Tellez, who plays the Narrator, is a Lead Special Projects Assistant for the NOAO Education and Public Outreach Department. He is currently a senior at the University of Arizona, studying chemical engineering, chemistry, and mathematics.
Chuck Dugan, who plays the Peyton Westlake (AKA the Dark Skies Crusader), graduated from the University of Arizona in 1979, and has worked with the the National Optical Astronomy Observatory for 11 years. As a Program Specialist at NOAO, Chuck develops and presents public and educational programs for the Education & Public Outreach department and for the Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center.
Sponsors: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is brought to you by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory on behalf of Globe at Night. NOAO is the national center for ground-based nighttime astronomy in the United States and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. Globe at Night has been using crowd-sourced observations to track the spread of light pollution since 2006. This year, the project is expanding so that you can collect data every month of the year. If you can find Orion or another one of the bright constellations being used in the program, you can add your data to this ever growing citizen-science effort. For more information, go to www.globeatnight.org.
Narrator: When we last left our Dark Skies Crusader, he had just retired, passing on his legacy to his young apprentice, the Dark Night. For the past year, Peyton has been seeking enlightenment in the dark skies philosophy, living out his life as a hermit. Donna, the Dark Night, has been eagerly keeping bad lighting at bay by educating the populace about smart lighting. However, with the start of the new year, she is realizing that protecting the night sky is more than a one woman job.
Donna: I don’t know how Peyton did all this by himself! Between my day job, Globe at Night, Adopt-a-Street, Global Astronomy Month, and all the other light pollution awareness programming we having going, there is just too much for me to do!
Narrator: In another brightly lit part of town, something senses Donna’s stress.
L.E.D.: [maniacal laughter] My time has finally come! The Dark Skies Crusader is gone and his Dark Night is too busy to stop me. Come, Candesce, my minion, there’s not a moment to lose!
Narrator: Seemingly overnight, traditional yellowish low pressure sodium street lights are replaced by unshielded, blue LED street lights. Flyers appear in citizens’ mailboxes urging them to light their homes more.
Citizen: [reading the letter] “Studies have shown that more lighting lessens crime because it is easier to see people lurking if there are that many shadows.” Gee, that makes sense, I guess.
Donna: I don’t understand! Why, all of a sudden, are people using more light? Don’t they know that this is only costing them more money and using more energy? And all this with poorly designed street lights and cheap, incandescent bulbs! [gasps] This can only be the work on one fiend: Lighting Evil Doer and her sidekick Candesce! How ever will I combat them on my own?
Narrator: Back at her lair, Lighting Evil Doer was plotting her next move.
L.E.D.: See, Candesce? My brilliant plan is working! People actually believe that more light keeps you safer! Hah! And now that their homes are brighter, they won’t be able to see the stars, thus eliminating that horrendous Globe at Night program!
Candesce: But boss, why are you trying to wipe that out? I think it’s kinda fun, getting to look at the stars, finding the constellations, seeing how bright or dark your area is… and this year, they have twelve opportunities, one each month! The first one starts January 20th! I know because I looked at their website globeatnight.org!
L.E.D: Candesce, I don’t have time for your inefficiency. Do you even know what they do with all that data they collect? Why they use it to make lighting ordinances, to implement “smarter” lighting designs!
L.E.D.: So if people can’t see the stars, then they have no motivation to do Globe at Night and no new lighting ordinances will be passed and the cycle continues! [maniacal laughter]
Narrator: Back at Linda Lightman Lighting Limited Liability Corporation, Donna is searching for a way to combat Lighting Evil Doer.
Donna: AHA! I’ve got it! With Globe at Night kicking off soon, I’ll enlist people all over the city and the world to collect data, which I can then use to help convince officials to pass lighting ordinances. With new laws, people will have to change to better lighting designs, with shielded fixtures and more efficient bulbs. And it’s easier than ever to record Globe at Night data! The “Loss of the Night App” for Android phones and the “Dark Sky Meter” for iPhones allows people with those devices to measure the night sky brightness using their phones! And with the Webapp, citizen scientists can upload their Globe at Night data from any computer, phone, or tablet. I’ll post about these on the Globe at Night Facebook and Twitter pages to reach people all over the world!
Sound effect: typing noises
Donna: I can also tell people about the Adopt-a-Street Program, which is perfect because of the poor street light designs! People can pick a street or even a neighborhood and take a reading every mile! That ought to, Lighting Evil Doer!
Narrator: Back at Lighting Evil Doer’s lair…
Sound effect: phone notification noise
L.E.D.: What? Globe at Night posted a Facebook update? Hah! They won’t get a single person to submit data this year! [maniacal laughter]
Narrator: Several months later…
Donna: [speaking to the crowd] Hello everyone and welcome to the Linda Lightman Lighting Limited Liability Corporation Star Party as part of Global Astronomy Month! We’re so happy to have all of you here! As part of our star party, we’re going to collect data for the Globe at Night campaign! In the past three months, we’ve received more submissions than we did up until this time last year!
L.E.D.: WHAT?! Candesce, how is this possible?! Don’t people like their bright, safe lighting? Don’t people like being able to see what’s going on and where they’re going? Don’t they know that Globe at Night data will be used to make the city darker?!
Narrator: Suddenly, Lighting Evil Doer feels a hand grab her shoulder. She turns around to see-
L.E.D.: THE DARK SKIES CRUSADER?! IT CAN’T BE! But but but you’re supposed to be… you’re a hermit… you’re RETIRED!
DSC: Yes, but really, did you think I was going to miss this event? And I couldn’t help but notice that the city seems brighter than when I left. I figured this was your handy work. Clearly, you have underestimated my apprentice, the Dark Night.
Donna: [speaking to the crowd] And now I would like to welcome our speaker for this evening, someone who took me under his wing. He retired from our company, but as we say “neither incandescent nor mercury vapor lamp nor glare nor sky glow keeps this crusader from protecting our night skies”. Ladies and gentlemen, Peyton Westlake, the Dark Skies Crusader!
Sound effect: applause and cheering
DSC: Thank you, thank you, thanks to all of you! As many of you may have noticed, the city seems brighter than it was when I left over a year ago. It is a common misconception that more lighting keeps you and your families safer. Although enticing, this is not necessarily true. Lights which are poorly shielded or too bright create glare, which makes it harder to see! By using only enough light to illuminate an area, you are keeping your family safer and saving money and energy. Thanks to Donna and your participation in Globe at Night over the years, we have put together a proposal to set up a lighting ordinance for our city, which will serve as a model for surrounding communities. Thanks to your ongoing participation, we can help keep our night skies dark for generations to come!
Sound effect: applause and cheers
Narrator: Join the Dark Night in her quest to defeat Lighting Evil Doer by participating in Globe at Night, starting January 20th. More details at globeatnight.org. And tune in next time, mid-March, when Candesce joins the dark side!
End of podcast:
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Astrosphere New Media. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. 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 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. In the new year the 365 Days of Astronomy project will be something different than before….Until then…goodbye