Jun 1st: Dark Skies But Not Dark Grounds

By on June 1, 2015 in
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Podcasters: Carmen Austin, Hayley Keith, Ryleigh Fitzpatrick, Zachary Watson

Globe-at-NightTitle: Dark Skies But Not Dark Grounds

Organization:  NOAO

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

Description: We once again follow our heroes, Donna the Dark Night, and her loyal sidekicks Hayley and Lindsay, as they fight to decrease the light pollution in their city. Now, the Dark Night Crusaders aren’t helping promote dark skies in just Glowtham, they’re taking the dark skies and Globe at Night campaign international! They first stopped at Paris, France to attend the International Year of Light 2015 opening ceremony. Their second stop was Chile, South America, where they helped a local observatory combat light pollution from LED billboards. Now, the Dark Night Crusaders are headed to Tokyo, Japan in their international light pollution campaign.

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.

Hayley Keith, the author of this podcast and the voice of Hayley P. Small (H.P.S), 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 Lindsay P. Small (L.P.S), 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.

Zachary Watson, the voice of Mayor Mac, 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.

Transcript:

Cast:

Donna (The Dark Night): Carmen Austin
Narrator: Hayley Keith
Lindsay P. Small (L.P.S.): Ryleigh Fitzpatrick
Hayley P. Small (H.P.S): Hayley Keith
Hoshi: Zachary Watson
The Thief: Carmen Austin

Narrator: Last time on the Dark Night Crusaders, Donna the Dark Night and her faithful sidekick Candesce travelled to Chile during their international light pollution campaign. While there, they met two very enthusiastic young twins, Hayley P and Lindsay P Small, who were both students at the University of Santiago and very passionate about reducing light pollution in their city. While in Chile, Donna and Candesce, with the help of Hayley and Lindsay, helped out a local observatory after LED billboards were put up on a nearby highway, hindering the astronomers’ research. Afterwards, Candesce realized that her true calling was educating the citizens of Chile about light pollution and helping them reduce it. Even though Candesce can never be replaced, Hayley and Lindsay decided to transfer to Fleetwood University in Glowtham to help Donna the Dark Night. But before they could head back to Glowtham, our trio gets a call from the Tokyo Police Department.

(phone rings)

LPS: Ooo, can I answer the phone?

HPS: But I have the more official sounding voice!

LPS: We’re twins, Hayley, we have the same exact voice.

Donna: Hello, this is the Dark Night, how may I help you?

Tokyo Policeman: Hello Dark Night, my name is Hoshi, and I am a policeman with the Tokyo police force. We need your help! We’ve had a string of purse snatchings in parks across Tokyo at night.

Donna: How can we help?

Tokyo Policeman: Well, the problem is, they all happen near the streetlights in the parks. But because the lights have too much glare and the light doesn’t go where it’s really needed, the victims don’t see the robber until it’s too late, and they don’t see where he runs to after their purses are stolen.

Donna: This definitely sounds like a lighting problem. We’re on our way.

Donna: Hey guys, it seems we have a lighting safety problem on our hands. Looks like we’re headed to Tokyo.

HPS and LPS: Cool!!

Narrator: Our trio packs up and catches the next flight out to Tokyo, Japan to see if they can help solve this purse napping case. They arrive at Tokyo at night.

LPS: We’ve never set foot out of Chile.

HPS: It’s so cool that we already get to travel halfway across the world to Japan!

Donna: Even though we will have time to sightsee, our top priority right now is trying to help the Tokyo PD catch this robber. Let’s head over to the police station.

Narrator: The Dark Night Crusaders leave the airport and make their way through the heavy Tokyo traffic to the police station.

HPS: Wow, look at all these lights! They sure are pretty but…

LPS: …they contribute so much to light pollution.

HPS: I can’t even see the stars!

Donna: Yep, Tokyo is one of the brightest cities in the world. And even though Tokyo is very populated, a lot of this light is unnecessary and contributes to light pollution. But Tokyo also participates in Globe at Night, so hopefully they’ll start working towards reducing this light pollution.

Narrator: Donna and the twins arrive at the police station. Upon arrival, they are greeted by the policeman who talked on the phone with Donna.

Hoshi: Hello, it’s very nice to meet you in person. Thank you so much for coming out all this way to help us.

Donna: Of course, fighting light pollution is what we do!

Hoshi: Since it’s nighttime already, let me take you to one of the parks where we had a purse robbery. You can see the lighting situation first hand.

Narrator: The Crusaders follow Hoshi to one of the scenes of the crime.

Hoshi: It was under this light here that our victim’s purse got stolen. She never even saw the thief coming, and she didn’t really get a clear view of him leaving either. He’s done this in other parks under similar lighting as well.

Donna: Well, I definitely see the problem here.

HPS: Yep, this light doesn’t have any light shield on it.

LPS: No shield means that the light goes everywhere instead of just on the park path where it’s needed.

HPS: Also, not having a shield makes this light very bright. There’s so much glare it hurts just to look at it!

Donna: I can see how the robber has been getting away with these crimes. Outdoor lighting is supposed to be task-oriented, which means it goes only where it’s needed. These park lights are not well task oriented, and our thief is using that to his advantage.

Hoshi: So how do we stop him?

Donna: What is one park that the thief hasn’t struck yet?

Hoshi: Let’s see, I don’t think there’s been a purse napping at the park downtown.

Donna: Does it have similar lighting as this park?

Hoshi: Yes, I believe it does. It also doesn’t have as much security as the other parks around the city, so it’s a logical next target for the thief.

Donna: We need to head over there, pronto!

Narrator: The Crusaders and Hoshi head to the downtown park.

Hoshi: It doesn’t seem like the thief will do anything tonight. It’s too late now, there aren’t any people walking around for him to rob. But, there is going to be a jazz concert in this park tomorrow night.

HPS: That would be a good time to strike. There will be a lot of purses to rob tomorrow night.

Donna: Well, it seems like the lights are better shielded at this park, but I can see about five lights that aren’t and would be perfect targets for our thief.

LPS: Hmm, I have an idea, but I’m going to need everyone’s help to pull this off.

HPS: Are you thinking, what I’m thinking?

LPS: Well of course I am, we’re twins!

Hoshi: Will one of you please just tell me the plan?!

HPS: Well, we know that the thief is going to commit his crime under one of the five poorly shielded park lights with high glare. So, if we can build makeshift shields for four of the five lights, it will force him to rob a purse under that one light that isn’t shielded.

LPS: Then, we can plant someone under that light with a purse and have the cops at the ready to arrest him the second he tries to take the purse.

HPS: Ooo ooo, can I be the bait?

Donna: Actually, I think I’m going to take this one Hayley.

Narrator: The next day, The Crusaders and policemen made some makeshift shields and put them on four of the unshielded lights at the downtown park, leaving one streetlight unshielded. Donna bought a very kidnappable purse. As night falls, Donna stations herself under the streetlight while the cops hide close by. The sky gets completely dark, and the unshielded streetlight throws light everywhere. The glare makes it hard to see far down the path.

HPS: How long until he strikes?

Hoshi: This is around the time the robber commits his crimes, right as it’s dark enough that he can get away with it.

Narrator: Sure enough, Donna looks down the path and can barely make out a figure running towards her. Because of the poor task oriented lighting, she doesn’t see him clearly until it’s too late, and he swiftly grabs her purse, running off again. Luckily, the policemen were also watching the entire time. The second Donna’s purse is taken, they leap into action, catching and apprehending the thief.

Thief: Man, I really didn’t think I’d get caught! It was so easy using the bad lighting to my advantage! It was easier robbing people under these kinds of streetlights than it was robbing people where there were no lights at all.

Hoshi: That’s the last time you steal a purse in my city you thief! Our parks are once again safe.

LPS: We still need to make the lights in the parks safe though. With good shields, the light will only go on the path where it is needed and reduce the glare and harsh shadows the light creates.

Donna: Even though lighting is sometimes necessary for safety, too much lighting isn’t necessary, and poor quality lighting like this one can also be unsafe. There is no clear scientific evidence that increased outdoor lighting deters crime. Bad outdoor lighting can actually reduce safety by making victims and property easier to see. Also, glare from bright lighting creates shadows where criminals, like this thief, can hide. Remember, “dark sky” does not mean dark ground, and “brighter” does not mean “safer”.

HPS: Yep, smart lighting that directs light where it is needed creates a balance between safety and starlight. Also, it’s important to remember to only put light where it is really needed, and only during the time period that it will be used, at levels that enhance visibility. If the light isn’t needed, just turn it off, or install dimmers and motion sensors.

Hoshi: I’ll have a talk with city council and see if we can implement some of these lighting solutions into our parks. Our citizens should be able to feel safe with the lights in our parks.

Donna: Sounds like our work here is done!

HPS: You have to admit though, it was pretty cool how the thief used the bad lighting to his advantage. That was very clever of him!

LPS: Clever or not, sis, he was a bad guy.

HPS: I suppose so… Well, where are we off to next?

Hoshi: Before you guys leave, let me show you around Tokyo! I’m a Tokyo native, so I know where all the great sights are! Also, I know where the best sushi is in town.

LPS: I have always wanted to try sushi!

Narrator: Donna, Hayley, and Lindsay spent the rest of their time in Tokyo visiting its sites and educating the public on light pollution. Where will Donna and her new sidekicks travel next on their international tour to spread the word about light pollution, dark skies, and Globe at Night? Tune in next time to find out! Your next chances to help our heroes are our upcoming Globe at Night campaigns: June 8-17 and July 7-16. Visit our website, www.globeatnight.org for more information about all of these projects! Also, for more information on lighting safety, visit www.darksky.org.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by NUCLIO. 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. This year we celebrate cosmic light as light is our info messenger in the universe. Join us and share your story to celebrate the International Year of Light. Until tomorrow! 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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