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Credit: Data courtesy Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC. Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC.


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April is Astronomers Without Borders'  Global Astronomy Month (April)


One of the main “take-away” messages from Global Astronomy Month (GAM) is why we should preserve our dark night skies. Even if you live in cities with too many bright lights, you can make a difference. With half of the world’s population now living in cities, many people have never experienced the wonderment of a pristinely dark sky and maybe never will. “Light pollution” is obscuring people’s long-standing natural heritage to view stars. Poorly-aimed and unshielded outdoor lights are the cause of most of the light pollution. They waste more than $2 billion (17 billion kilowatt-hours) of energy in the United States each year, for example. Under an unpolluted sky we ought to see more than a couple thousand stars, yet we see less than a hundred from many cities.

Several dark skies events and activities are being held worldwide on behalf of GAM to promote public awareness on how to save energy and save our night sky. The events range from things you can do in a few minutes, like the audio podcasts, things you can do in a day for adults and for kids, things you can do over a week’s time, a campaign measuring light pollution, a photo contest and poetry on the importance of maintaining dark skies, a conference on light pollution and a year-round program to conserve places to observe a dark night sky.

Getting Started: International Dark Sky Week

The first week of April celebrates IDSW. It’s a great time to host a neighborhood star party and introduce the idea of preserving a dark night sky to your community. A poster child example is the community of Harmony, Florida with their Dark Sky Festival on April 9. The main goal of IDSW is to raise awareness of the value of maintaining dark skies. Another goal of IDSW is to encourage efficient use of outdoor lighting. That is, lighting that lights where you need it, when you need it, and for amount of time it's needed. So if you participate, and you encourage your friends, relatives, and neighbors to participate, that could make a difference in the quality of the night sky and inspire those around us to preserve its beauty.

More GAM Activities

How much night sky we have lost to light pollution?

The GLOBE at Night program is a 2-week international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by encouraging everyone everywhere to measure local levels of night sky brightness and contribute observations online to a world map.  Action can speak louder than words sometimes. The act of measuring night sky brightness often shows people how serious light pollution has become. The campaign ended in the northern hemisphere on April 4, but continues until April 6 in the southern hemisphere. www.globeatnight.org/

How do you find and preserve dark sky places for observing?

Available year-round, the One Star at a Time program is a worldwide effort to create accessible public spaces to view a starry night sky. The program uses night sky conservation to unite people across the planet. One Star engages the average citizen, individually or in groups, to cherish and protect the night sky through personal pledges, registration of public stargazing areas, and information sharing. www.onestar-awb.org


GET CREATIVE: Photography Contest and Poetry Blog

Enter the Earth and Sky Photography Contest!

From now until Earth Day, 22 April, an online “Earth and Sky” photo contest is open for submission by photography enthusiasts from around the world. The contest theme, “Dark Skies Importance,” has two categories: “Beauty of the Night Sky” and “Against the Lights.” Photos submitted to the contest should aim to address either category: either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is or to impress people on how bad the problem of light pollution has become.

Both categories illustrate how light pollution affects our lives. Winners will be announced on April 30. Get rules and see last year’s winners >> 

Dark Sky Poetry

Darkness, both real and imagined, has been written about since writing began. Continue this tradition of human wonder by expressing yourself through poetry! Poetry on the beauty and importance of dark skies can be submitted all month to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read the GAM Astropoetry blog >>

LEARN MORE: Podcasts and Conferences

What if you have only a few minutes to learn about the impact of dark skies on our lives?

Ten minute audio podcasts on dark skies awareness are available at 365DaysofAstronomy.org. They’re a fun way of learning about serious light pollution issues that affect energy use, our health and wildlife. See the archival podcasts on March 7, 2011, February 7, 2011 and March 21, 2010, respectively.

Are there any meetings this month dedicated to learning about light pollution abatement?

Come to the IDA Conference on April 16 and 17 in New York, USA. Come to the largest astronomy trade show in North America and gain insight into how people have successfully reduced light pollution. The event features celebrity guests and renowned lecturers.  Hear how public education is creating excitement for dark sky conservation. Get the very latest information on ways to light cities more efficiently and the consequences if we do not.

A special day to celebrate our right to starlight!

World Night in Defence of the Starlight happens on April 20 every year to remind us of the need to preserve our right to view a dark night sky full of stars and to take steps to prevent its disappearance. The World Night in Defence of the Starlight is promoted annually as part of our cultural, scientific and environmental heritage. Activities can include switching-off lights at night to recover the stars and save energy. Organize artistic competitions, exhibitions, media campaigns, or conferences on the beauty of the night sky. Create artistic materials like videos, music, books, stories, photographs or paintings on the beauty of the night sky. Identify and possibly protect dark skies oases. Visit an astronomical observatory. Or, organize a star party! www.starlight2007.net/TheWorldNight.html

How can kids become involved in preserving dark skies?

Become a Dark Skies Ranger. They can:

  • Do energy saving kinds of things, especially by helping make the sky darker at night. Turning off outdoor lights at a curfew like 10pm is the easiest.
  • Figure out how much energy is saved if they replace an outdoor light with a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL). The “Home Outdoor Lighting Audit” worksheet is on the GAM Dark Skies Awareness web page.
  • Ask older family members to change out an outdoor light for a more efficient bulb and perhaps shield the bulb so that the light is directed downward and the bulb is not seen.
  • Build a “Magnitude Reader”. Use it when observing the night sky, and find out how light polluted their sky is. The activity is on the GAM Dark Skies Awareness web page.
  • Form an astronomy club at school and help their teachers host a star party.
  • Write to their city council on behalf of saving dark skies and saving energy.
  • Create art, photos, music, poetry or stories on the importance of maintaining dark skies.
  • For their efforts during the month, Dark Skies Rangers can download a certificate and an “Our Globe at Night” poster from the GAM Dark Skies Awareness website on April 30, Dark Skies Rangers Day.

For further activities to introduce children to how light pollution affects energy use and wildlife as well as astronomy, how to light responsibly, and how to measure the darkness of your night sky, see www.darkskiesawareness.org/DarkSkiesRangers/.



Throughout April 2011, StarPeace, in cooperation with Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), invites everyone to create a chain of world peace while gazing at the wonders of the night sky as a series of events circumnavigates the world for 30 nights. How does it work? Find out >>

IDA Activity Book

See the new IDA activity book, called Nighttime Rocks! It includes coloring, word searches, and more! Check it out >>














WWF's Earth Hour Read IDA's 2010 Endorsement

Star Parties, Tours, and More >>

Past Events


9th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference (Cosponsor) 4-6 February 2010 in Seattle, WA visit www.NewPartners.org for more information 


International Year of Astronomy 2009 IDA worked with the National Optical Astronomical Observatory to create a number of  educational resources for IYA2009. Download >>

Read the United Nations General Assembly Proclamation >>