July 15th: Fading Astronomy, the Cost of Light Pollution

By on July 15, 2014 in
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Podcasters: Carmen Austin, Lindsay Small, Calvin Ortega, Zachary Watson, and Kathie Coil

Title:  Fading Astronomy, the Cost of Light Pollution

Description: In this installment of the Globe at Night podcast series, Donna, the Dark Night Crusader, must face the threats of light pollution at the Bright Wayne Observatory. Her long time arch-nemesis, the Lighted Evil Doer, attacks the city of Glowtham with light pollution. Donna saves the day by properly installing shielding for each light fixture in the city and recommends solutions people can use to direct lighting where it is needed.

The Globe at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. Campaigns run for ten days every month. The upcoming one starts July 16, 2014.

Links: www.noao.edu, www.globeatnight.org, www.globeatnight.org/webapp, www.facebook.com/GLOBEatnight, www.twitter.com/GLOBEatnight, www.darksky.org

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.

Bio: Zachary Watson, the author of this podcast and the narrator is a Junior at the University of Arizona studying Physics and Astronomy. He works as a special projects assistant at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

Carmen Austin, playing the part of Donna/The Dark Night Crusader 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 is a senior at the University of Arizona studying engineering management and minoring in astronomy.

Calvin Ortega plays the role of the astronomer Edwin Double. Calvin is a special projects assistant with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

Kathie Coil who plays the role of Linda is the Public Affairs Sr. Program Coordinator at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

Transcript:

Cast:
Narrator: Zachary Watson
Edwin Double (Astronomer): Calvin Ortega
Lighted Evil Doer (L.E.D): Lindsay Small
The Dark Night Crusader (Donna): Carmen Austin
Linda: Kathie Coil

Narrator: High atop the mountaintops overlooking the carpet of lights from the city of Glowtham was the Bright Wayne astronomy observatory. Nightly astronomers would train their telescopes on the dimmest objects in the universe because of the pristinely dark skies. Deep in the lair of the Lighted Evil Doer, L.E.D. for short, something sinister is afoot unbeknown to the astronomers on the mountain and the citizens of the city below.

L.E.D. : The light bulb in my head went off! I will attack those most affected by light pollution. I will illuminate the skies over the Bright Wayne Observatory making their telescopes useless! Muahahaha! Urban sprawl, sky glow from sports fields, homes, and unshielded street lamps will ruin the skies and no one will see a star again!

Narrator: Outside of L.E.D.’s lair and back on the mountaintop of Bright Wayne Observatory we join our nightly astronomer Edwin Double perched high atop the mountain

Edwin Double: My observations show that the stars are fading away and that the night sky is getting brighter; the sunrise isn’t for many more hours! Looking at my measurements, I cannot make out the double star I am studying! I need to look outside to see what this light is!

Narrator: A few moments later Edwin Double steps out of the telescope only to see the bright glow of the city lights in the sky blocking out all but the few brightest stars.

Edwin Double: My astronomical images are ruined! The lights from the city have ruined the night sky and I will never be able to finish my observations tonight!

Narrator: Meanwhile in the city below the mountain we join our caped crusader the Donna who is trying to sleep only to be awoken by the light trespass of nearby unshielded streetlights.

Donna: Wow, what is all of this bright light flooding through bedroom my windows? I cannot sleep! What is this? My light senses are tingling and I have a sense that the sinister L.E.D. is up to something no good. With the night sky looking like a constant glow I am sure that L.E.D. has done something sinister to the community.

Narrator: Our caped crusader Donna begins to prepare to fight the looming threat of light pollution in her community. We now return to L.E.D’s lair.

L.E.D.: That’s it! That’s it! The astronomers at Bright Wayne Observatory and the citizens of Glowtham will never see a star in this city again! The streetlights in this city are unshielded as well as stadium lights and residential lights; they are all pouring light into the night sky blocking our view to the stars! Urban sprawl and unchecked light pollution will block everything and the Dark Night Crusader will be powerless!

Narrator: Heading to the well-lit lair of L.E.D. our caped crusader notices that the streetlights are unshielded and that the stadium lights are pouring light into the sky.

The Dark Night Crusader: L.E.D. I am onto you! I know your schemes to increase light pollution in our city! I know that because of you all of the lights in the city are unshielded!

L.E.D.: That’s right! Not only did I increase the light pollution in the city, I also increased everyone’s energy bills! By unshielding the outdoor lights of the city, people have to pay more to keep their outdoor areas brightly lit instead of redirecting the light with a shield and thereby being able to lower the amount of wattage used!

The Dark Night Crusader: I am will stop your diabolical plan L.E.D. Together with the Linda Lighting Corporation, we will make sure that all of the lights in the city are shielded

L.E.D. Darn it! You may have beaten me this time but the next time my light pollution will be even worse!

Narrator: The Dark Night Crusader quickly heads to the Linda Lightman Limited Lighting Corporation.

Linda: Donna! How can I help you?

Donna: Linda, I need you to make light shields for the lights in the city so we can stop the light pollution in Glowtham.

Linda: I will start production as soon as I can.

The Dark Night Crusader: Thanks, Linda! Now the city lights can be shielded and we can see the stars again… I now am needed at the Bright Wayne Observatory now.

Astronomer: Thank you Dark Night Crusader for saving our night skies. How can we help to make sure this never happens again?

Dark Night Crusader: You and everyone else can take personal measures to prevent light pollution in your area. You can shield your outdoor lights and get involved in local government to make sure that light ordinances call for well-shielded lights. To better understand light pollution you and everyone else should participate in the Globe at Night campaign to characterize local light pollution.

Narrator: For more information regarding the hidden impacts of light pollution, you can visit either globeatnight.org or darksky.org. To help characterize light pollution in your area you can visit www.globeatnight.org and participate in the monthly observing campaigns.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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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

About Constance Walker

Connie Walker is an astronomer in the Education and Public Outreach group at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. She manages the GLOBE at Night program for the National Optical Astronomy Observatory since the program’s beginning in Tucson and La Serena, Chile. In addition, she chairs the Cornerstone Project on Dark Skies Awareness for the International Year of Astronomy. Her colleague in writing the podcast is Hillary Oswald a freelance writer from Denver, Colorado, and author of a good article on GLOBE at Night in the February 2009 issue of the magazine, Edutopia.

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