This year, when we realized we had to reinvent our Annual Conference and take things virtual, we knew it was a unique opportunity to connect with our global audience. However, we never anticipated the universal level of enthusiasm from dark sky defenders worldwide. Under One Sky 2020 was an incredible 24 hours jam-packed with passion and inspiration. It was truly an international event. In fact, we had over 750 unique visitors from more than 50 countries tune in. We can’t thank you enough for helping to make it such a success!
Highlights from Under One Sky 2020
Throughout the conference, we heard from voices often underrepresented in the fight to protect the night. We listened to speakers from 12 different countries all around the world share their unique stories about defending the night. They touched on themes from astrotourism to Indigenous astronomy. The perspectives they shared were important and momentous.
We kicked things off on Friday, November 13, with a Global Opening featuring Dr. Annette Lee who focused on Indigenous astronomy worldviews, particularly Ojibwe and D(L)akota, and how people from all cultures might look to this relationship with the sky as a reminder of the night’s critical importance.
Next, we held a regional session featuring speakers from South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. During this session, we learned about using astrophotograhpy to raise awareness about light pollution from Jeff Dai. We also heard about many ways to look at the Southern Cross through the lens of Indigenous Australians from Paul Curnow. Then, we were all inspired by Exodus Sit and his unique and enthusiastic outreach methods. We ended the session with Victoria Campbell discussing Māori astronomy.
Afterward, we moved onto Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India to learn about Olayinka Fagbemiro’s efforts to get children excited about astronomy in Nigeria. Then, we learned about Astrostays, a community-driven astrotourism model in the Himalayas, from Sonal Asgotraa before hearing from Dajana Bjelajac. Dajana talked about her personal experiences over the last five years in Serbia with workshops and projects on popularizing science and raising light pollution awareness. We finished the session with Sohéil Salimi, who discussed the dark skies awareness program in Pasargad, Iran, during Global Astronomy Month.
Our final regional session covered North and South America. We began with Sergio Emilio Montúfar Codoñer discussing how people can use astrophotography as a way of scientific communication and reconstruction of cultural heritage. Next, Fernando Ávila-Castro shared useful tips for getting a light pollution ordinance approved from Mexico’s successful efforts. Then, we heard from Julio Vannini about his experiences with light pollution in both Nicaragua and Peru. Alejandra León-Castellá ended the final regional session discussing the CIENTEC Foundation and how they are launching a new strategy to promote the conservation of dark skies and develop a niche for astrotourism in Costa Rica.
At our Global Closing, we finished with an open discussion and Q&A with IDA’s Executive Director, Ruskin Hartley and Senior Editor at Sky & Telescope, Kelly Beatty.
Missed a session or want to rewatch your favorite one? The presentations have been recorded and are available on a YouTube playlist here.
Inspired to Take Action?
We hope that you came away from the conference invigorated and inspired to take action in your community!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Have a look at our website to learn more about the issue of light pollution.
- Grab an Under One Sky t-shirt or hoodie while they’re available.
- If you aren’t already, consider becoming an IDA Member.
- Sign up for training and begin the process of becoming an advocate.
- Start at home by conducting a home lighting assessment.
- Find the International Dark Sky Place nearest to you.
- Rewatch and share your favorite presentations from the conference here.
Thank you again for sharing this special experience with us!
Our next virtual event will be for International Dark Sky Week in April of 2021. Please watch darksky.org for details. Also, stay tuned for updates about next year’s conference!