Loss Of the Night in Galway (LONG)2015/16 Projects
The objective of this project is to run Galway’s first light pollution/sky quality measurement campaign.
Loss of the Night in Galway (LONG) will engage the student body to conduct a large-scale volunteer survey of the night sky brightness using low-light-capable mobile phone cameras that many students already possess. Loss of nocturnal darkness, through excessive and badly executed artificial lighting, is recognised by the EU as harmful to public health, disruptive to animal behaviour, a costly waste of energy and public money, and an unnecessary addition to our carbon footprint.
Virtually free apps for mobile phone cameras will facilitate the volunteers to make measurements and log GPS coordinates. Results will be processed into maps and time-series. Prompted by the project results, Galway, could set out to become Ireland’s first ‘dark sky city’, with improved lighting ordinances. Much of Connemara would be eligible to become Ireland’s second Dark Sky Reserve, after South Kerry (insert link: www.kerrydarksky.com). The NUI Galway Imbusch Observatory, an outreach flagship, would also deliver better views to students and its many public visitors.
Project Team & Links
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We took delivery of the lens this week! While waiting for the lens etc., we have tested the app against a calibrated Sky Quality Monitor (SQM) device under clear skies and found the response to be fairly reliable. Some individual phones do seem to need the sensitivity calibration adjustment with the app to be tweaked. This is useful data.
App usage was almost impossible through the winter months due to the extremely cloudy weather (December for example had a record low number of sunshine hours by day, and a correspondingly low number of clear hours at night). We also require a minimal moon phase for best results. Things have obviously improved as we headed into spring.
Regarding student volunteers, we were overly optimistic re. the hundreds of students who join AstroSoc at the start of the year translating into large numbers of active members. What we now need is a revitalised student recruitment drive, looking beyond AstroSoc members to the University overall.