Location: Chemistry/Physics Building, MUN
Time: 8:00 pm
Just to add encouragement, Doug noted that last year from June to September we had 10 clear nights (source: Robert Babb).
Doug went over the benefits of membership, both local and national. (Locally, you can go to members-only observing events, and borrow Centre equipment.)
Doug introduced Jerry, and noted he was a former research scientist at DFO.
Jerry's interest in Light Pollution arose from aggravation it caused him with his backyard and cabin observing. He has two neighbours close to his cabin that shine very bright lights from two different directions. They even do things like shine across ponds and light up his local treeline. This provided him the motivation to learn more and try to do something about it.
Jerry's talk centred on what light pollution is, its impacts, what is being done about it, and possibilities for a Centre role.
Jerry began with a definition, and some photographic examples from various places. He followed with some impacts:
Jerry explained the concepts of overall sky glow, glare, and the ecological consequences (light trespass). It is now recognised light trespass results in poorer human and environmental health. Some examples:
How can this situation be remedied? Jerry noted this is probably the easiest form of pollution to remedy, but people are either unaware of it, or greatly downplay the consequences. Some solutions include better lighting fixtures (light down, not up), and community awareness (check out Harmony, Florida as an example). Flagstaff was declared an International Dark Sky Association Dark Sky City in 2001. Jerry invited Joe English to speak about his recent tour of Flagstaff, and some personal examples of how night lighting was dealt with. Joe provided some photos. It was also noted that thanks to the efforts of the community, the Flagstaff observatories are at 93% of their original capacity, despite a lot of growth over the years.
Some organisations involved include the aforementioned IDSA, the International Year of Astronomy's Starlight project, UNESCO, and the International Astronomical Union. You can find out about UNESCO, the IAU, and other groups' La Palma Declaration here: http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/defense-declaration.php . The RASC itself also has a Light Pollution Abatement Program, with national resources to help local groups. Right now Canada has seven "reserves" set up.
There followed a discussion of possible approaches and activities that we in the Centre can undertake in this area. Some good ideas were generated and we should all look into helping to prevent areas like Butterpot Park from degenerating slowly in the future.
Doug mentioned that we have been involved with the Newspapers In Education program for the past few months. The Centre has agreed to produce monthly articles on astronomy and we are looking for volunteers to produce some articles. If a member has a topic they would like to write about, check on our web site to see if it hasn't been already covered (the articles are collected there). After then checking with Doug Grouchy or Shawn Martin, the article can be written. We are looking for articles about 1200 words in length. The Telegram can help with the final production and any artwork, but check with Shawn about these matters.
Shawn covered what we will see over the summer. The Sun, Moon, Planets, and sky events were covered from June to September. Shawn also presented a list of objects for the summer Observing Challenge. Most of these objects are not too difficult for somebody with a bit of observing experience.
Our next meeting will be September 17, 2009 (tentatively).
Butterpot Star Party will be July 24-26. If you are a member, car entry fees will be waived and you can camp for free if you camp with the RASC group. Please double check with Doug Grouchy, Shawn Martin, or another executive member that your name will be on our membership list provided to the park before attending. If its not, you will have to pay park fees.
If you are travelling out west, to Saskatoon, the RASC will be having the national GA from August 13-16. The GA will be held in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Summer Star Party.
Richard graciously donated a set of IYA stamps produced by Canada Post. These are sealed and unopened. He also donated some mechanical clocks, which quickly disappeared.
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