Dark and Quiet Skies
An IAU Global Outreach Project
The Dark and Quiet Skies Global Outreach Project raises awareness about the need to preserve dark and quiet skies. These two elements – dark and quiet – go hand-in-hand but refer to two different types of interference. Dark sky protection refers to the abatement of light pollution caused by artificial light at night by regional and national policy and law, in addition to public awareness. More recently, dark sky protection has also included the protection of the night sky from optical and infrared impacts (such as trails seen in images) resulting from the growing number of satellites in Low Earth Orbit. On the other hand, quiet sky protection refers to the threat posed by the radio interference of the same satellite constellations. The threats related to satellites are the primary concern of our partner, the IAU Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS).
Through this project, people will learn about the importance of dark and quiet skies for human culture, heritage, and health, in addition to the health of our ecosystems and the importance of dark and quiet skies for astronomy research.
Be sure to check back here for updates on our events and programmes during the month of May!
Smartphone Astrophotography Workshop
When: 3 May at 7-9am UTC, 4 May at 3-5pm UTC, and 14 May at 6-8am UTC
Astrophotography (the process and its product) is widely regarded as one of the best ways to engage people with astronomy. However, the equipment that is typically required can be very expensive, essentially blocking some people from considering the activity as a viable option. Smartphones, on the other hand, are used by a sizeable fraction of the global population and so are a relatively accessible resource for many people. We have gathered some of the foremost experts in smartphone astrophotography to provide some tips and tricks about how to use a smartphone to take beautiful photographs of the night sky.
Partners: OAE, AWB
Smartphone Astrophotography Contest & e-Exhibition and Gala
The IAU Office of Astronomy for Education will once again host an astrophotography contest (see the past winners for 2021 and 2022). This year’s contest, due to be announced soon, will feature a smartphone astrophotography category that is sponsored by the OAO. Six winners will receive 100 euros, and several honourable mentions will also be awarded. After the winners have been announced (date TBD), the OAO will host an e-Exhibit and Gala at which we display the astrophotos and provide space for the artists to talk about the intersection of their work and the importance of dark and quiet skies.
Seminar: The Cultural Relevance of Dark and Quiet Sky Protection
When: 31 May at 13:00 UTC
Join us on 31 May 2023 at 13:00 UTC for our IAU OAO Seminar on the Protection of Dark and Quiet Skies: the Cultural Relevance of Dark and Quiet Sky Protection. This online event will bring together astronomers, cultural practitioners, artists, activists, and outreach professionals to share their connection to the dark and quiet sky and its importance to the world’s cultures. We invite everyone – from students to professional astronomers to Indigenous knowledge holders – to tune in, learn about, and engage with this important issue. Speaker details are coming soon.
The IAU OAO and the IAU National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs) participate in various activities to raise awareness of the importance of dark and quiet skies. Join an event hosted or supported by one of our 130+ NOCs, IAU Dark Skies Ambassadors or other organisers from the astronomy outreach community around the world.
Global Light Pollution Initiatives Survey
We are gathering information about how countries around the world approach the fight against light pollution. In this survey, we ask you to provide some brief information about initiatives happening in your country (either led by you or someone else) and provide practical ways people can get involved in this effort. This could include changing their light bulbs to warm LEDs, signing a petition, participating in a town hall, or joining a lobbying group -- whatever you think would be most relevant for your community. We will use this information as part of a global resource on light pollution and as a way to promote global initiatives to protect our dark and quiet skies.
Take the Pledge! Become a Dark and Quiet Sky Protector!
How to become a Dark and Quiet Sky Protector in three simple steps:
- What will you do in your community to protect our dark and quiet sky? Write down your response to this question and make a commitment to defending our dark and quiet skies on this form. If you cannot access Google for any reason, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will provide you with an alternate solution.
- When you submit your written commitment, you will receive an email template to send to your local legislator (for example, a mayor, community leader, governor, and so on) urging them to join in the fight against light pollution.
- You will also receive a certificate from the OAO declaring you a Dark and Quiet Sky Protector. We hope you display it proudly!
Partners: CPS, IDA
Planning your own event on light pollution abatement and dark sky protection? Maybe you’re planning a star party for the people in your neighbourhood or a mobile planetarium show with a local astronomy club. Whatever your plans are, share them with us in our Events Calendar and become a part of the OAO community! Hosts are invited to indicate in the description if others are free to join.
Do you need some ideas for your dark sky event? You can find them in the Office for Astronomy Outreach Activity Toolkit. If you have developed or know of any astronomy outreach activity format that engages people on the topics of light pollution and dark and quiet sky protection, please share it with the community.
Join Our Social Media Campaign
Follow the OAO on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about light pollution, satellite constellation interference, and the impacts of light pollution, in addition to sharing resources, events and more! And don’t forget to join the conversation by using the hashtag #DarkAndQuietSkies.
Other programmes and resources endorsed or partners of IAU OAO
UNESCO International Day of Light
The IAU is a media partner for the annual International Day of Light on 16 May. Organised by UNESCO, this day honours the role of light in our lives.
Learn more about the International Day of Light here.
International Dark Sky Week
The IAU OAO is a media partner with the International Dark Sky Week. The week is hosted by the International Dark-Sky Association to raise awareness about light pollution’s many negative effects.
Globe@Night Citizen Science Campaign
The IAU OAO proudly endorses the monthly Globe@Night citizen science campaign. This project gathers data from volunteer observers to track the impact of light pollution over time. Contributing occurs for a one-week period each month and requires no more than your eyes and an internet connection.
Learn how you can participate here.
Globe at Night - Sky Brightness Monitoring Network (GaN-MN)
Globe at Night - Sky Brightness Monitoring Network (GaN-MN) is a special project that extends the Globe at Night project through a global network of commercially-available sky-brightness meters for long-term monitoring of light pollution. The project is conducted in partnership with the University of Hong Kong.
Learn how to join here.
Dark Skies for All
Dark Skies for All aims to raise awareness of the preservation of quiet and dark skies. The project capitalises on student engagement and IAU Dark Skies Ambassadors network to further protection of the night sky against light pollution. The project is a legacy of the IAU centenary and is done in partnership with the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in India.
Learn more about Dark Skies for All here.
IAU Dark Skies Ambassadors
The IAU Dark Skies Ambassadors programme invites keen enthusiasts worldwide to be dark sky advocates. The ambassadors organise projects and events in their communities to locally promote dark skies. Joining the programme allows you to join a supportive environment of peers and provides international visibility of your efforts.
Learn more about the IAU Dark Skies Ambassadors here.
Dark Skies Rangers
The Dark Skies Rangers programme provides resources for primary and early secondary school kids to learn about light pollution and go out to measure light pollution in their own communities. Resources include lesson plans and worksheets for teachers set to US education standards.
Learn more about Dark Skies Rangers.
- IAU Light Pollution brochure (EN). Translations are available in Arabic, Chinese (Traditional), Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Melayu, Filipino, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.
- IAU theme on light pollution.
- IAU theme on satellite constellations.
- Online Workshop Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society: Report and recommendations.
- Please see the IAU Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference, IAU Commission B7, and Working Group on Dark and Quiet Skies webpages for more information on IAU actions regarding dark and quiet skies.
The OAO would like to thank the involvement of its many partners in this project.
Outreach Partners: Organisations with which we have an ongoing collaboration to produce outreach opportunities for our community of NOCs and people worldwide. If you would like to become an outreach partner, please contact email@example.com
Media Partners: Organisations with which we have a mutual agreement to share and disseminate content. If you are interested in becoming a media partner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org