ann21002 — Announcement
Report Published Following Workshop on Dark & Quiet Skies for Science and Society
12 January 2021
From 5 to 9 October 2020, more than 950 people took part in an online Workshop on Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society. Drawing on this event, a report is now available online which describes the impact of human activities on the visibility of the starry sky and the progress of the science of astronomy. Crucially, the document makes recommendations for actions that local governments can take to preserve dark and quiet skies. These topics will be explored further in the SATCON2 workshop in Spring 2021 as well as in an in-person follow-up of the Conference “Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society” tentatively scheduled for next autumn in La Palma, Spain.
The report addresses three classes of interference: Artificial Light At Night (ALAN), radio wavelength emission and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite trails. Incorporating suggestions from participants in the workshop, the report has been prepared by more than 85 experts organized across five Working Groups. The Working Groups focused on, respectively: Dark Sky Oases, Optical Astronomy, Bioenvironment, Satellite Constellations and Radio Astronomy.
Each Working Group has made recommendations for steps that can be taken to mitigate the particular effects of the human activities they focused on. Since many of these activities also have important benefits, such as increased safety thanks to urban illumination and network connectivity provided by satellites, care has been taken to recommend actions that reduce their negative impacts without compromising their effectiveness for their original purposes. This is essential for the quick development and implementation of actions to preserve dark and quiet skies, for both scientific exploration and cultural heritage.
In April 2021, an executive summary of this report will be presented to the United Nations Science and Technology Sub-Committee (STSC) of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). COPUOS requested this meeting and the recommendations with the goal of protecting the science of astronomy. The feedback from the COPUOS STSC will be used to finalize the report, which will then be presented at the full COPUOS meeting in August 2021.
The online workshop was organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the IAU, together with the meeting hosts at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), with support from the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab.
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