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The Sky Brightness Data Archive (SBDA). Craine ER, and Craine EM., and Craine BL. Proceedings SAS Ann.Mtg. (2011)
Although many astronomers have long been sensitive to issues of light pollution and deteriorating sky quality, it is only in recent years that such interest has extended to other groups including, among others, ecologists, health professionals, and urban planners. Issues of light pollution and loss of dark skies are starting to appear in the scientific literature in the context of health and behavior impacts on both human and animal life. Nonetheless, a common deficiency in most such studies is the absence of historical or baseline data against which to compare sky brightness trends and temporal changes. To address this deficiency, we have begun to collect a variety of types of quantitative sky brightness data for insertion in an international sky brightness archive that can be accessed for research projects which are dependent upon an understanding of the nature of local light pollution issues. To aid this process, we have developed a mobile sky brightness meter which automatically logs sky brightness and observation location. The device can be stationary for long periods of time, or can be easily transported for continuous sky brightness measurement from ground vehicles, boats, or aircraft. The sampling rate is typically about 0.25Hz. We present here examples of different modes of sky brightness measurement, various means of displaying and analyzing such data, ways to interpret natural astronomical phenomena apparent in the data, and suggest a number of complementary scientific projects that may capture the interest of both professional and amateur scientists. Finally, we discuss the status of the archive and ways that potential contributors may submit their observations for publication in the archive.