I write to encourage your participation in an event in March 2009 that dovetails with many of the issues President-Elect Obama champions: change, valuing science, community initiatives, energy reduction, taxpayer benefits, and lessening our impact on the natural environment. Yes, there is still low fruit to pluck.
The United Nations declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy, which commemorates the 400th anniversary of Galileo using a telescope to make fantastic discoveries. Based on compelling new evidence--for example, Jupiter carrying four moons with it in orbit around the sun--Galileo could see he and his world were no longer the immutable center of everything. It's a lesson we could all stand to learn. Galileo essentially launched science when he showed that the old model no longer worked. We need to change our way of thinking, he asserted.
During the last two weeks of March 2009, we invite then-President Obama to join us in looking up, not just figuratively but literally, as local students conduct a collective science experiment to quantify sky glow from wasted outdoor lighting. In our community alone, thousands of kids in grades 3-8 will take a moment to count the stars of the constellation Orion that are visible from their backyards and to contribute their observations to an international database. Then they will make a model out of LEGO blocks to show visually how much of the night sky has already been lost. The students will likely propose real, apolitical solutions that we believe the next Administration would embrace. For more information see www.LetThereBeNight.com.
In preparing for this initiative, the students are investigating outdoor lighting technology that is available today. At risk are energy and money, tax dollars, motorist safety, natural habitats, human health, and the heritage of the night sky. As President-Elect Obama asks the nation to challenge the status quo, our community is working together to understand the needs of modern society and how we can lessen our impact on the earth. While outdoor lighting may not be the sexiest topic in the national dialogue, it is the most visible aspect of energy consumption that we can change-both profound and achievable--for the old model no longer works.
Please join us. The next 400 years begin now.