Dark Sky Festival 2015

Dark_Sky_Fest_Poster_2015 (Update)

The International Dark-Sky Association South Florida Chapter is proud to announce:
Palm Beach County’s 3rd Annual Dark Sky Festival
Saturday, February 21st from 6-10pm
at the Okeeheelee Nature Center in West Palm Beach, FL
The purpose is to raise public awareness about light pollution and sky glow in our area. Sky glow is caused by wasteful lighting practices and fixtures that allow light to escape upward. It wastes energy and impacts wildlife including sea turtles, frogs, birds, mammals and insects; and makes it difficult to view and enjoy the wonders of starlight in the night sky.

This family-friendly event will highlight the issues, offer solutions and feature stargazing, presentations and vendors. Don’t miss it !!

For directions, visit the nature center’s website (click here)

Hosted By:

  • Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation
  • Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management
  • IDA South Florida

Dark_Sky_Fest_Poster_2015 (Update)

Thought experiment: Light pollution from Rigel

Reading around in preparation for IDASF’s public outreach table at this Saturday’s Everglades Day, I ran across this from Bob Berman, author of Secrets of the Night Sky.

If Rigel, one of the brightest stars in Orion, were suddenly to move as close as the other stars in that constellation, “our nocturnal landscape would tingle with sharp, alien Rigel shadows, and the night sky would always be as bright as when a full moon is out. Most of the universe would disappear from view.”

Guess we have it pretty lucky…

Great World Wide Star Count starts tonight.

Citizen science is getting more and more popular; there are annual bird surveys, like the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, which is now in its 113th year. That event inspired the collaborative Great Backyard Bird Count (cosponsored by National Audubon and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology), now in its 15th year.

And now in its sixth year is the Great World Wide Star Count: two weeks in October during which ordinary citizens can compile simple observations to help better understand the effects of nighttime lighting on our view of the world.

All you’ll need are a clear evening sky sometime between October 5th and 19th, your own two eyes, and a set of simple star charts. First, download the handy five-page activity guide (available in 16 languages) and print the star charts.

There are five simple steps:

1. Determine which constellation to observe (in the Northern Hemisphere, the target is Cygnus)
2. Find that constellation at night an hour after sunset (about 7-9pm local time)
3. Match your nighttime sky with one of the magnitude charts available on the count’s website
4. Report what you see online
5. View results of this international event

Then, after stepping out under the early-evening sky and letting your eyes adjust to the darkness, match one of the charts to what you see overhead. Step back inside and report what you’ve found online. You’re done! (Unlike many contests, you can enter more than once! You might be surprised by how much the sky’s darkness can vary from night to night.)

GWWSC is a managed by UCAR’s Windows to the Universe project. Previous efforts netted more than 22,000 observations. (If you’ve done this activity before, please do it again! In that way, you can help track long-term trends in light pollution’s growth — or, just maybe, its decline.)

Go ahead — participate in the Great World Wide Star Count and become a “citizen scientist”!

To learn more, visit the GWWSC’s website.

Documentary: The City Dark

In this short outtake of Ian Cheney’s documentary The City Dark, Ian looks locally at how artificial lighting, on the beaches of Palm Beach county, affects sea turtles. He also interviews Dr. Kirt Rusenko, the marine conservationist of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, Florida.

Ian’s documentary blends a humorous, searching narrative with poetic footage of the night sky, provides a fascinating introduction to the science of the dark, explores our relationship to the stars and asks what is lost in the glare of city lights?

Winner, Best Score/Music Award, 2011 SXSW Film Festival. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV. 

Watch The City Dark: How Lights Can Confuse Baby Turtles on PBS. See more from POV.

NOTE: Public Broadcasting Station’s P.O.V. will show Ian Cheney’s The City Dark – July 5th,

After having evolved to go toward the brightest sky (which was naturally over the ocean due to reflecting starlight) and after hatching, turtle hatchlings now struggle to make it to the ocean because the glow from electric lights is much stronger.

Check out the local PBS POV schedules for the full documentary:

WPBT airs POV: The City Dark on Thursday, July 5, 11:00pm.

WXEL airs POV: The City Dark Thursday, July 5, 10:00pm & Friday, July 6, 2:00am.