Podcasters: Calvin Ortega, Jr., Carmen Austin, Becca Levy, Ryleigh Fitzpatrick, Zachary Watson, Hayley Keith
Description: We once again follow our heroes, Donna the Dark Night, and her loyal sidekick Candesce as they fight to decrease the light pollution in their city. This month, Glowtham is preparing for a momentous event: the installation of a Narrow Band Amber LED streetlight on their City Hall. Our heroes show up at the event, but so does their adversary, Lighting Evil Doer. Will Lighting Evil Doer try to ruin the event, or will she have a change of heart?
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: 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.
Becca Levy, the voice of Candesce, is currently a senior at the University of Arizona, double majoring in Astronomy and Physics with a minor in French. She works as lead special projects assistant in the Education and Public Outreach Department at NOAO.
Hayley Keith, the author of this podcast and the voice of Lighting Evil Doer, is a junior at the University of Arizona and a Science Education: Earth Science Emphasis major. She also works as a special projects assistant in the Education and Public Outreach Department at NOAO.
Ryleigh Fitzpatrick, the voice of the Mayor of Glowtham, is currently a sophomore at the University of Arizona. She is triple majoring in Astronomy, Physics, and Math and is also a special projects assistant in the Education and Public Outreach Department at NOAO.
Calvin Ortega, Jr., playing the part as the narrator, is a senior special projects assistant in the Education and Public Outreach Department at NOAO.
Zachary Watson, the voice of the man at the door, is a junior at the University of Arizona and is double majoring in Physics and Astronomy. He is also a special projects assistant in the Education and Public Outreach Department at NOAO.
Donna (The Dark Night): Carmen Austin
Narrator: Calvin Ortega, Jr.
Lighting Evil Doer: Hayley Keith
Candesce: Becca Levy
Mayor: Ryleigh Fitzpatrick
Man at the door: Zachary Watson
Narrator: Last time on Dark Night Crusaders, Donna the Dark Night and her faithful sidekick Candesce tried in vain – or so they thought- to convert their nemesis, Lighting Evil Doer, to the dark side, the dark skies side that is. In the process, they learned the real reason that Lighting Evil Doer is so against the dark skies campaign: she’s afraid of the dark! Is there any hope in making Lighting Evil Doer into a proponent of Globe at Night and dark skies? Currently, our heroes reside at their headquarters at Linda Lightman Lighting Limited Liability Corporation.
Candesce: Hey Donna, did you hear about that new streetlight that’s being put up in the center of Glowtham on City Hall?
Donna: No I didn’t! What kind of light?
Candesce: I just got a flyer for it. Apparently, that mercury vapor streetlight on the front of city hall is being replaced by a Narrow Band Amber LED light.
Donna: Oh, well what’s wrong with the mercury vapor streetlight?
Candesce: Mercury vapor lights were used as outdoor lights on older builders. And even though their production was banned in 2011, a lot of older buildings still have them. They emit a weird green light and are very energy inefficient. Most of the mercury vapor lights also aren’t shielded, so they contribute a lot to sky glow, light trespass, and glare. Because City Hall is an older builder, it still has a mercury vapor light.
Donna: I always wondered why City Hall glowed that weird green color. I thought maybe something was wrong with the building! How are Narrow Band Amber LED lights different than other LED’s?
Candesce: Most of the LED’s that are on streetlights now are white or blue LED’s. Even though these are energy efficient, they are so bright that they still contribute to sky glow, light trespass, and glare. Also, exposure to blue light at night is thought to have negative effects on ecology and human health. Amber LED’s have a lot less high energy light than the white and blue LED’s, so it still has the high efficiency but without the health risks, sky glow, light trespass, and glare.
Donna: Ah, these Amber LED’s sound great! Why aren’t they used more?
Candesce: Amber LED’s do make amazing streetlights, but unfortunately, they’re pretty expensive. That’s why it’s a pretty big deal that they’re putting one up in Glowtham. Hopefully, Amber LED’s will keep decreasing in cost over the years.
Donna: Well, if we’re getting our very own Narrow Band Amber LED, we better get over to City Hall!
Narrator: While our Dark Night Crusaders head over to the City Hall for the installation of the Amber LED, their nemesis Lighting Evil Doer is in her lair. But instead of planning her next evil plot to thwart dark skies efforts, she’s looking over the Globe at Night postcard that she stole from Donna the Dark Night and Candesce.
Lighting Evil Doer: You know, this Globe at Night thing isn’t too bad. It actually looks kind of fun. You get to measure how dark the skies are where you live and then contribute your data points to Globe at Night just like people are doing all over the world. I have always wanted to be a scientist, and this way I could be a citizen scientist…
Narrator: But just then, the incandescent light in Lighting Evil Doer’s bedroom flickers out.
Lighting Evil Doer: Oh no! Darkness!! The Dark Night did try to tell me not to use incandescent bulbs anymore since they last about 8800 hours less than CFL’s but cost much more to use them. Darn you, Dark Night! Why must you always be right??
Narrator: Lighting Evil Doer scrambled in the darkness, looking for another light to turn on. She hated the darkness and had not gotten over her childhood fear of it. She finally finds her LED flashlight (given to her by the Dark Night) and clicks it on just as she hears a knock on the door.
Man at the Door: Good evening! I’m just going from door to door to invite the citizens of Glowtham to the installation of the NBA LED light on City Hall. It’ll be quite the event!
Lighting Evil Doer: NBA LED? There’s a National Basketball Association LED light?
Man: (laughs) Of course not! NBA stands for Narrow Band Amber. It’s a new type of LED that’s not as bright as the older, blue LED’s and doesn’t have the negative health effects.
Lighting Evil Doer: You mean, it’s better for dark skies?
Man: Yep, it puts less light into the sky, so it cuts down on sky glow. It also has less glare and doesn’t trespass where it isn’t needed. Here’s a flyer for the event. Hope to see you there!
Lighting Evil Doer: (takes flyer and closes her door) I almost forgot how much I was scared of the dark. I can’t let this Amber LED be put up in town and make things even darker! I must put a stop to this!
Narrator: Lighting Evil Doer leaves for the City Hall with a dastardly plan in mind. Meanwhile, our heroes the Dark Night and CFL arrive at City Hall while Glowtham’s mayor gives a speech about the new LED.
Mayor: Today is a special day for Glowtham. Over the years, with the help of the Dark Night Crusaders, we’ve tried to fight light pollution in our city so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of a dark sky, one of which is the beauty it can offer. So I’m proud that our own City Hall is replacing this ancient, inefficient mercury vapor light with a new Narrow Band Amber LED. Besides being energy efficient, this NBA LED light will help cut down on light pollution. Now, would someone please turn on our new Amber LED light?
(people scramble around and there’s murmuring in the crowd as people wait for the LED)
Mayor: Umm, we seem to be having some technical difficulties, just one moment please.
Mayor to Donna: We can’t seem to find the special light switch we had made to turn on the Amber LED. We just had it a few seconds ago. I don’t know where it could have gone!
Donna: I think I know where it went. This has Lighting Evil Doer written all over it.
Narrator: Sure enough, Lighting Evil Doer jumps onto the stage, holding the light switch.
Lighting Evil Doer: Citizens of Glowtham, do not let the mayor and the Dark Night Crusaders trick you into thinking this Amber LED is good! What’s wrong with the light that is already up there? Yes, it makes everything it shines on a gross green color, and yes, it blinds you if you look at it. And does it flood unnecessarily into the surrounding homes keeping you all awake at night? Probably. But, it also keeps away the darkness, something that none of us want.
Narrator: Just then, all the surrounding lights go out.
Mayor: Oh no, we had scheduled the lights to go out right after we turned on the new LED light!
Lighting Evil Doer: NOOOO!! Not the darkness!!!! See citizens of Glowtham, this is why we need lights.
Narrator: The crowd starts to get scared all standing in the dark until Donna grabs the microphone from the mayor.
Donna: Everybody, calm down, everything’s fine! Nothing is wrong with a little bit of darkness. Not only is it better for our health, but look up. Without as much light pollution, we’re able to see the beauty that the night sky has to offer.
(Ooo’s and ahh’s from the crowd)
Lighting Evil Doer: Do not listen to her! Yes, we may get incredible views of the sky, but how are we supposed to get around at night and be safe without lights?
Donna: That’s why we want to install lights like this Amber LED. It provides enough lighting but contributes a lot less to light pollution than many other lights, especially this mercury vapor lamp. When you pick the correct lighting, you can both be safe and reduce light pollution. Everybody wins! Now, let’s turn this light on.
Narrator: Before Lighting Evil Doer could react, Candesce used her emergency LED flashlight to find her way to Lighting Evil Doer and grab the light switch out of her hand.
Candesce: Let there be light!!
Narrator: With that Candesce turned on the Amber LED, which safely lit up the surrounding area but glowed a pleasant amber color without any glare. As the citizens of Glowtham looked up to the night sky, they could still make out some of the stars.
Donna: See Lighting Evil Doer, that’s not so bad is it?
Lighting Evil Doer: But…
Narrator: Just as Lighting Evil Doer was about to come up with an argument, an owl came and perched on top of the NBA LED streetlight.
Lighting Evil Doer: Mr. Moonlight, is that you? I never thought I’d see you again!
Candesce: The light from this Amber LED is a lot less harsh than the mercury vapor light that used to be here. Too much light usually chases away nocturnal animals, like this owl. But less lighting and lights like this that promote dark skies are easier for nocturnal animals to handle.
Lighting Evil Doer: You know what, maybe I was wrong about dark skies and light pollution. Darkness isn’t all that bad. The night sky really is beautiful. With all the stars and moon, it’s a lot brighter than I used to think it was. And with proper lighting like this Amber LED, I can still have light and enjoy the night sky and my owl friend here. You know what, I don’t want to be Lighting Evil Doer any longer! The name’s LED, Amber LED.
Donna: I’m so glad you’ve finally seen the light, Lighting Evil Doer, I mean LED. Would you like to join Candesce and I and become a Dark Night Crusader?
Amber LED: Thanks for the offer, but I think you guys have it handled here. I really like this Globe at Night campaign thing. I was doing some research on it, and you know where they need more data points? Africa. Do you think the Dark Skies Crusader would like a sidekick?
Donna: We may have to convince him of your change of heart, but yes, I think he’d be more than happy to have some help in Africa.
Narrator: And with that, the Dark Night Crusaders and LED parted as friends, not enemies, as LED traveled to Africa with her friend Mr. Moonlight. Even though this battle may have been won, there is always more light pollution to fight. So tune in next time as our heroes continue to protect our dark skies! Your next chances to help our heroes are our upcoming Globe at Night campaigns: November 12-21 and December 11-20. Visit our website, www.globeatnight.org for more information.
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