SAS Annual Meeting: Light at Night Presentation Abstracts

The Light at Night Mapping Project: LAN MAP 1, the Tucson Basin

Craine1,2 ER, Craine1,2 BL,Craine2 PR, and Craine2 EM,

Tucson, Arizona, once billed as the Astronomical Capital of the World, has long been home to at least 10 major astronomical institutions and facilities. The region also hosts numerous productive amateur observatories and professional-amateur astronomical collaborations. In spite of the implementation of progressive night time lighting codes, the continued growth of the region has arguably deprived Tucson of its title, and threatens the future of some if not all of these facilities. It has become apparent that there are several difficulties in regulating this lighting environment. It is not easy to model the actual effects of new or changed lighting fixtures, there are compelling economic conflicts that must be considered, and adherence to various guidelines is often ignored. Perhaps the most fundamental problem is that there have historically been no comprehensive measures of either light at night or sky brightness over the extended growth areas. What measurements do exist are inhomogeneous and poorly accessible spot measurements at some observatory sites. These have little to tell us about the actual light distributions in the overall region, and rarely are informative of the specific light sources that offend the observatory sites. Tucson remains, for the time, an important astronomical resource. Because of its astronomical and lighting code circumstances, it is an interesting and valuable laboratory for studying these issues. In this presentation we introduce an innovative new 5-year project to comprehensively map both sky brightness and associated artificial lighting as it is manifest over extended areas of development in the vicinity of important astronomical institutions. We discuss the various vectors employed in data collection; we outline the protocols used for each methodology, give examples of the data collected, and discuss data analysis and conclusions. This program has been underway since January 2012, and has already produced results of interest to professional and amateur astronomers alike.

  • 1Western Research Company, Inc., Tucson, AZ
  • 2STEM Laboratory, Inc., Tucson, AZ

Student Project and Curriculum Based on Light At Night Data Collection

Craine1 Erin M, and DeBenedetti2 Jennifer C.

There is a growing movement in the educational field to promote science, technology, engineering and math studies and projects among K-12 students. This stems from a concern about waning understanding and interest in these fields by younger students. STEM Laboratory, Inc. (STEM) has developed a Sky Brightness Meter (SBM) that can be used with ease yet produces complex and important information relating to light at night monitoring. STEM Laboratory sees the SBM and its corresponding data archive as a means to involve students directly in projects that relate to scientific method exploration, makes science more accessible, and encourages a life long appreciation and understanding of scientific endeavors. In this paper we present an example of a project template that could be used by students studying effects of artificial light on sky brightness. In particular, we show high resolution ground measurements of a local high school vicinity with and without sports field lighting in place. STEM has developed several outreach lessons aligned with the Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts Common Core Curriculum. These lessons also have an emphasis on multiple Systems Thinking concepts. All lessons and activities are designed to be supported by classroom teachers, Boy or Girl Scout leaders, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other youth education geared organizations.

  • 1STEM Laboratory, Inc., Tucson, AZ
  • 2Catalina Foothills School District, Tucson, AZ