More awareness for IYL 2015
The light pollution of the night sky is now a growing specter that UNESCO, the IAU and many institutions, not only scientific, worldwide seek to remedy, at least by sensitizing young people and non-experts on the damage of energy consumption for the health and for the environment.
On 20 December 2013, the General Assembly of the United Nations has proclaimed 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-based technologies (IYL 2015). The initiative, coordinated internationally by UNESCO and by a large number of scientific subjects, was supported for some time by the Italian Astronomical Society and the National Institute for Astrophysics who are actively working in the celebrations. The official opening of the initiative at an international level was held on January 19 in Paris, at the UNESCO headquarters, while in Italy took place on January 26 in Turin.
To take care of the celebrations at the international level is the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which has a mandate to promote the importance of energy conservation and greater attention to light pollution.
Topics, these, that every year are remembered by the initiative of the WWF Earth Hour (Earth Hour), one day during the year when the largest cities of the world, including many in Italy, turn off all the lights of monuments and places of public interest in the name of climate change and environmental protection.
The IAU has joined forces with the CIE (International Commission on Illumination) and IDA (International Dark-Sky Association), forming a collective of experts in lighting, light pollution, education and awareness on these issues. All this to preserve as much as possible the night skies, their quality and our right in the dark. In this’ context, the IAU has promoted a global project entitled “Light and cosmic quality of light”, whose main purpose is just to draw attention to the advantages of a lighting manager. Light pollution becomes more dramatic as the excessive light has profound consequences on our perception of the night sky, interfering with astronomical research, upsetting the different ecosystems and leading to negative effects to our health than the waste of energy.
The program of events of the IAU is very dense and involves schools and scientific institutions in over 100 countries. There are three main projects at the international level: the Dark Sky Meter App, already launched the iPhone for free and you can get help to observe the night sky; Cosmic Light kit EDU, whose website was put online today and who will have access to teachers and advisers who can easily get the kit and gadgets to be used for various educational activities; and then the Teaching Quality Lighting kit, similar to the above but focuses more on raising awareness against pollution especially among the young.
In addition to the popular initiatives, the organizing committee of the Year of Light in 2015 organized an exhibition entitled Light participatory online: Beyond the Bulb (LBTB), designed to showcase the incredible variety of scientific research based on its light today, with images and data covering the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The exhibition materials are very striking and viewable for free online. All this was made possible thanks to the voluntary participation of hundreds of researchers around the world. Not only. The exhibition will be traveling and there are already 25 countries that want to host it. Among other initiatives for educators is the Galileoscope, a kit to build a telescope at low cost but high quality developed by a team of renowned astronomers and science educators.
Apart from the international ones, there are many events in Italy, local and national, linked to astronomical science and designed to celebrate the best the IYL2015. For example, for 11 years the broadcast BBC2 – Caterpillar promotes Day dedicated to energy saving “M’illumino less”, which was celebrated on 13 February. Never before the initiative was important and involved, as every year, municipalities, institutions, individuals, schools, businesses, museums, sports clubs, voluntary associations, shopkeepers, artisans. New this year was the participation of astrophilae associations or important institutions, such as the INAF and SAIt precisely.