Hi, I’m Lisa the Director of Learning here at the Space Centre.

Did you leave your lights on?
The picture above is what Earth looked like at night as seen from space in 2016. This image is actually a composite of hundreds of pictures taken over time from the Suomi NPP satellite.

The image below of Vancouver was taken in 2013 from the International Space Station. What do the lights tell us? The lights reveal areas more densely developed, busy transportation routes and if you look very closely you will even be able to see Stanley Park outlined with lights. Can you find familiar landmarks and maybe where you live based on the patterns of light you can see in this image?













Image credit: NASA
 
Images of Earth at night from space do look beautiful but they reveal an issue you can help to improve—light pollution. When we think about light, we don’t often think of it as pollution. Light often symbolizes safety and community. Sitting around a campfire is one experience that is often fondly remembered for the feeling of connectedness with fellow campers and safety from the unknown in the surrounding darkness. But too much light does negatively affect human health, the ecosystems and wildlife, wastes energy, and makes it difficult to enjoy the beauty of the night sky. Safety is the reason most commonly expressed by those opposed to changing exterior lighting to more ‘night sky friendly’ alternatives, but brighter doesn’t necessarily mean safer.  

Can you see stars from your home? If not, there may be some simple steps you can take to improve the outside lighting. There are 5 simple questions that can guide you to assessing your home’s exterior lighting. Check out the International Dark Sky Association’s resource to check whether your home’s lighting is dark sky friendly or download the City of Vancouver’s Outdoor Lighting Design Tips brochure.

Of course, viewing the night sky is better if you can get away from the city lights. We are lucky in the lower mainland as there are a couple of areas that have purposely worked on lighting strategies to preserve a dark sky. McDonald Park in Abbotsford is what is known as a Dark Sky Park and the City of Vancouver has recently been improving the lighting around Beaver Lake in Stanley Park to make it an Urban Star Park.

One of the reasons we are talking about light pollution this week is we are coming up to the peak of the annual Perseid meteor showers. Meteor showers are best viewed from a very dark location, but you might not be able to get to a dark place. We’d like to challenge everyone to see if you can work with your neighbours to decrease the amount of light pollution in your neighbourhood—even for one night—so you and your neighbours can enjoy the beauty of the night sky, and maybe even see a meteor.

Junior Astronomer Playlist (kids 8-12)
TimeActivity
10mins.

Watch the Knowledge Network’s episode Reclaiming the Night Sky and take a virtual stroll down urban streets from around the world to see what it would look with the lights switched off. Then, investigate the impact light pollution has on the area where you live.

Ask yourself: Are you surprised by how much light pollutes the skies above your home?

15mins.

Help build the first real colour map of the Earth at night using photographs taken by astronauts onboard the International Space Station in this citizen science project.

Ask yourself: What can we learn when we study maps of the Earth at night?

7mins.

Discover the consequences of light pollution by watching this video by the International Dark Sky Association.

Ask yourself: Why do you think we should reduce light pollution?

120+mins.

Take part in protecting the dark of night and measure the impact you can make with the Loss of the Night citizen science project around your own home.

Ask yourself: Can you think of some other things you can do stop light pollution?

2mins.

 

Watch this short video about the story of an artist who gets inspired by the night sky.

Ask yourself: How does the night sky inspire you?

Senior Astronomer Playlist (teens 13-15/adults)
TimeActivity
10mins.

Watch the Knowledge Network’s episode Reclaiming the Night Sky and take a virtual stroll down urban streets from around the world to see what it would look with the lights switched off. Then, investigate the impact light pollution has on the area where you live.

Ask yourself: Are you surprised by how much light pollutes the skies above your home?

15mins.

Help build the first real colour map of the Earth at night using photographs taken by astronauts onboard the International Space Station in this citizen science project.

Ask yourself: What can we learn when we study maps of the Earth at night?

20mins.

Delve deeper into the consequences of light pollution by reading this National Geographic article.

Ask yourself: What do you think are some of the most important reasons we should reduce light pollution?

120+mins.

Take part in protecting the dark of night and measure the impact you can make with the Loss of the Night citizen science project around your own home.

Ask yourself: Can you think of some other things you can do stop light pollution?

5mins.

 

Watch this short animation about the story of the last patron of an abandoned observatory who takes on an impossible task to show the surrounding city something incredible.

Ask yourself: What does it take to inspire wonder?