International Dark Sky Week!

This year, March the 31st until April the 7th will be International Dark Sky Week! International Dark Sky Week aims to spread awareness about the damaging global effects of light pollution.

What is International Dark Sky Week and Why Does it Matter?

International Dark Sky Week is celebrated annually and was established in 2003 by high school student, Jennifer Barlow. The program aims to spread awareness about the importance of preserving dark skies, issues involved with light pollution around the globe, and to educate people on how to minimise it’s harmfulness.

“I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future. … I want to help preserve its wonder.” – Jennifer Barlow

What is Light Pollution?

Light pollution is the brightening of the night sky by excessive use of artificial lights, such as street lights, building lights and other man made technologies. The amount of outdoor light currently used is problematic because it’s overly bright, inadequately shielded and there’s often much more light than is actually required!

 

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Image credit: IDA – https://www.darksky.org/dsw-resources/

There are a number of negative effects that light pollution is having, aside from the fact that we no longer get to see the beauty of the night sky. Research has revealed that light pollution is also having a negative impact on the health of humans and on wildlife. Some of these negative impacts include problems with breeding, sleep cycles and there are even strong links to an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer.

The Gingin Dark Sky Reserve

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The Gravity Discovery Centre & Observatory has spectacular dark skies.

 

The Gravity Discovery Centre & Observatory is working together with the City of Wanneroo; Main Roads WA; the Shire of Gingin; and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to create a dark sky reserve at the Gravity Discovery Precinct (70km north of the Perth CBD). The dark sky reserve will include 2000KM squared of protected night sky within the Shire of Gingin. The central core is reserved for astronomy tourism, astronomy education, Aboriginal cultural heritage and astronomical scientific endeavour; while the rest of the reserve will serve as a buffer for the prevention of localised light pollution.

We hope to protect our local wildlife; the many scientific endeavours undertaken in our precinct; and to ensure that future generations will get to experience the wonders of the night sky.

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How Can You Help?

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Image credit: IDA – https://www.darksky.org/dsw-resources/

 

Unlike many other threats facing our planet, light pollution can be reversed! According to the International Dark Sky Association, here are some things that you can do to help!

 

  • Minimise the light you use around your home. Shield your outdoor lighting or angle it downwards and only use light when you need it for the task at hand.
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  • Host a star party or attend one! Lots of astronomy clubs are holding public events for International Dark Sky Week (our astronomers at the Gravity Discovery Centre will be talking about Dark Sky Week at our regularly scheduled observatory nights!).
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  • Help to educate your friends, family and community about the effects of light pollution. Help them think of ways they can reduce light usage in their homes!
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  • You can become a ‘Citizen Scientist with GLOBE at Night or the Dark Sky Rangers. Through this you can contribute to a global database of light pollution measurements by documenting the light pollution in your area and sharing the results!
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  • Watch IDA’s video, “Losing the Dark” (for free) and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

    Further Reading

    International Dark Sky Week 2019