Attendees of the International Astronomical Union Congress in Beijing are being treated to a special "sneak preview" of a fulldome video on light pollution called "Losing the Dark". The five and a half minute public service announcement showing at the Beijing Planetarum on August 29th, 2012 is a joint collaboration between the International Dark-Sky Association and Loch Ness Productions, a U.S.-based fulldome video production company. Science and technical advisor for the production is Dr. Connie Walker, National Optical Astronomy Observatory's Senior Science Education Specialist and chair of the IDA Education Committee.
According to producer Carolyn Collins Petersen, CEO of Loch Ness Productions, the presentation is a public service announcement that brings the important facts about light pollution to a wide audience.
"Our team designed the show to emphasize some of the most important problems and effects of light pollution," she said. "Light pollution is ubiquitous, it affects our ability to see the night sky. In addition, it turns out that light pollution has effects on human health, and we've known for a long time that it affects plant and animal life. On top of all that, it costs us money and wastes scarce fuel resources."
The show presents these problems, but also suggests ways for individuals and communities to work together to combat light pollution. "We wanted to keep it very easy for people to help solve the problem," said Petersen. "So, we suggest that they turn off unneeded lights and use shielded lights -- full cutoff-lighting fixtures."
Scott Kardel, Managing Director at IDA, said: "We hope that families, school groups, and everyone coming to their local planetarium will see 'Losing the Dark' and realize that it is not too late to save the stars. They can help to restore the night sky outside of the dome to its full glory."
Production of "Losing the Dark" is being made possible by a seed grant from the International Planetarium Society, and through on-going donations to the International Dark-Sky Association. "We're raising funds to bring this show to planetariums around the world," said Kardel. "In addition, if sufficient funding is raised, we'll be working with Loch Ness Productions to translate the show into many languages and to create a 'flat screen' HD version for use in classrooms and by educational outreach professionals who want to bring the message of dark skies to their classrooms, science centers and communities."
"Losing the Dark" is tentatively scheduled for distribution to the international fulldome and planetarium theater community in autumn, 2012.
IDA is the only non-profit working to address light pollution around the world. Among its efforts, the organization provides information brochures, workshops, a model lighting ordinance, manages a night sky conservation program, and awards the distinguished IDA Fixture Seal of Approval to applicants with lighting fixtures that are dark-sky friendly. You can find more information about "Losing the Dark" and the International Dark-Sky Association on our website.