It's International Dark Sky Week, an event designed to raise awareness about the negative, star-dulling effects of light pollution.
Less than a third of the global population lives under naturally starlit and moonlit skies, according to the campaign's organizer, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Light pollution not only deprives people of a wondrous view of the cosmos — it can have serious health and environmental consequences, too. Besides wasting energy, pervasive artificial lighting can send confused migratory birds crashing into walls and disorient baby sea turtles on their vital post-hatching trek to the ocean.
Here are some of the ways the IDA suggests you can participate in International Dark Sky Week:
- Conserve: To minimize your own light pollution footprint (and save money, too), make sure the outdoor lighting around your home is shielded or pointed downward; and consider installing motion detectors and timers or reducing lamp wattage.
- Contribute: Become a citizen scientist and take measurements of light pollution in your neighborhood for the Dark Sky Rangers or through the GLOBE at Night's Adopt-a-Street program.
- Photograph: Take pictures of the sky in all of its starry glory for the 2013 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest.
- Preach: Tell your neighbors and friends about the initiative and the negative effects of light pollution.
- Party: Go to a skywatching event organized by your local astronomy club or one of the International Dark Sky Places — or throw your own stargazing party.
International Dark Sky Week began on April 5 and runs through April 11.