Celebrating the Heavens
During 2009, the world commemorates a simple act. Four centuries ago, Galileo turned his telescope upward and gazed deep into the firmament. While the act itself was simple, what Galileo did with his observations was a triumph. He recognized the profound implications of a few key observations and set out to share that insight.
Galileo launched experimental science with his systematic observations and reasoned interpretaton. In his footsteps, communities will gather their own scientific evidence to address local issues.
The 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations declared 2009 International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). The year celebrates the human pursuit to understand what is seemingly unfathomable--the vast realm of space and the fantastic stuff that fills it.
Dark Skies Awareness is one of the global IYA2009 Cornerstone Projects.
For IYA2009, programs in the United States will coincide with the global celebration, including 365 days of astronomy events. One theme of the US IYA program is "Dark Skies are a Universal Resource," a recognition that all people--not just astronomers--have much to gain from dark skies.
The Let There Be Night program is a grass roots intiative that dovetails with the global celebration. The project team is creating a DVD of dark sky resources for educators and advocates of the night. The PHM school district in Indiana will conduct a community-wide experiment to assess the baseline quality of its night sky and to generate dialogue about issues related to outdoor lighting technology.
Launch IYA2009 with a simple activity. Build a paper plate Platisphere that shows the clockwork of the stars for any given date and time, beginning on January 1 at midnight.
Every day in 2009 you can get a daily podcast from http://365daysofastronomy.org, including occasional podcasts from the Let There Be Night team.
Goals for 2009
Among Let There Be Night objectives are to get families simply to look up; to introduce them to outdoor lighting issues; to generate a community dialogue on how we prioritize the tradeoffs of outdoor lighting technology; and to inspire better outdoor lighting practices.
Let There Be Night embraces the major goals of the US IYA program: "To offer an engaging astronomy experience to every person in the country, to nurture existing partnerships, and to build new connections to sustain public interest in astronomy."
The Next 400 Years...