Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gift idea

Here's a chance to give someone a gift and do something to help conserve the night at the same time: give them an IDA t-shirt!

There are 3 different styles to choose from (the one pictured here is my favorite), and the proceeds from all three will go to support IDA's work, such as managing the International Dark Sky Places.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Submitted photos

I have some photos to share taken by friends of the blog. First, a photo of the skyglow caused by poorly shielded lamps at the Great Leighs Racecourse in Essex, United Kingdom:

Skyglow from Great Leighs Racecourse is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Click for more dramatic photos of the skyglow and lamps.

Liz Perkin (@riverperkin on twitter) snapped this photo of lamps that don't prevent animals from getting inside:

Spiderwebs in a lamp by Liz Perkin, originally posted on instagram
This of course slightly reduces the light that gets to the ground, and also greatly increases the amount of light that gets emitted into the sky. In the worst case, lamps that let arthropods inside can get downright gross.

Lastly, a photo by Roland G. Dechesne of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Moon phase calendar for 2016

Loss of the Night app user Andrew Cool from Australia has once again produced his very cool calendar of the phases of the moon in 2016:

Northern Hemisphere moon phases, by Andrew Cool

You can download his original images in low, high or poster quality resolution on his SkippySky website. He also has a Southern Hemisphere calendar. Andrew says:

Please feel free to download the calenders. Print them by all means, but I do ask that you play nicely and retain the discrete Copyright information in each image.

If you find that the Calendars are useful, I'd be very happy to receive a small donation via PayPal to help keep the SkippySky website and my single home PC running.

Use the PayPal buttons on the website at www.skippysky.com.au

If this is your first-ever visit to the blog, welcome! The blog is about a citizen science app called "Loss of the Night". We need your help to understand how changes in street lighting technology are changing the night sky. You can read our introduction to the blog here, and instructions on how to use the app here.

There's lots more to see, including:
You can see bring up our entire photo series via this link, and all of our posts about the moon here. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Photos of Berlin at night

On Saturday I flew over Berlin and took a number of photos. I posted them to twitter, and all of them are collected below:

If you liked the photos, please share your favorites along with this post on twitter and facebook!

Check out these 15 photos of Berlin at night from 9,500 feet up! http://lossofthenight.blogspot.de/2015/11/photos-of-berlin-at-night.html

Posted by Verlust der Nacht - Loss of the Night on Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Europe during last night's lunar eclipse

Yesterday morning the moon passed into the Earth's shadow. The period of totality happened to occur just as the Suomi NPP satellite was passing over Europe and northern Africa. Suomi carries the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which includes a "Day Night Band" which is the best (and only) full-Earth nighttime imaging sensor. That makes for a very pretty picture:

Image and Data processing by NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center,
cropped and enhanced by me. This image can be used with credit to NOAA and me.

Blogger has limits on the image size, so you probably want to see this higher resolution version (the full resolution version is hundreds of Mb, if you want to download it you can for the next two weeks here).

When the moon is full, Suomi can see clouds and land extremely well, and oceans and lakes appear extremely dark. The brightest spots are artificial light from human settlements. For example, check out this zoom in of the Nile delta, Israel, and the Gulf of Suez from the same image:

Image and Data processing by NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center,
cropped and enhanced by me. This image can be used with credit to NOAA and me.

But during the eclipse, the moonlight is temporarily gone, and the areas of Europe and northern Africa were plunged into starlight, which is just a bit too dim for good imaging from the sensor. Luckily for us, much of Europe had clear skies, meaning that we can see the city lights shining through!

Nearly a year ago I posted an image of a lunar eclipse over North America that is maybe even cooler because of the different gradient in moonlight.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Clouds and aurora in a natural setting

Ray Stinson recently shared these beautiful images of aurora and clouds with me. They were taken in Glacier National Park in Montana, USA.

This image by Ray Stinson is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This image by Ray Stinson is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This image by Ray Stinson is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This image by Ray Stinson is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The orange glow at the horizon in some of the photos is skyglow from Browning, Montana, over 50 kilometers away.

A few years ago, Ray took some photos of dark clouds passing over the Milky Way for me to use in this article that looks at the effects of clouds on skyglow. For nearly all of Earth's history, clouds made the night darker, just like they do in the day. It's only recently that this has been reversed, and we have now observed overcast skies over 2,000 times brighter than the natural star filled sky. We don't yet have models that can tell us where clouds make the sky brighter, but we do know that the affected area is enormous.

Nocturnal animals specialized to live under nighttime light levels. Over much of the Earth's land surface, the night no longer occurs, there is only daytime and twilight. Unfortunately, there has been almost no research into whether and what this change has done to ecosystems.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

on losing my right to vote

This is a story about citizenship, told by a Canadian barred from voting for working outside of the country.

My grandmother was born in 1911, in Leofeld, Saskatchewan, Canada. My grandfather was born in Germany in 1907, and immigrated to Canada in 1912 before he turned five years old. Following their marriage, my grandparents worked the Canadian prairie as farmers. For the first two years of their marriage, they walked to church, because their horses needed rest from the six days of fieldwork. They purchased their own farm in 1942, and they brought some of that land under cultivation for the first time. My grandfather died in 1959, leaving my grandmother to take care of a farm and support seven of their twelve children.

My parents met each other while working in a hospital in the remote northern village of Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan. The same spirit of adventure that drove them to live in the North led them in the 1970s to New Zealand. During my parents time there, my grandmother applied for a Canadian passport in order to visit them. Her passport application was denied because, in the words of the passport office, she was “no longer a Canadian citizen”.

The Canadian government considered my Grandfather an alien during the Second World War, and revoked his citizenship. This meant that my grandmother (who remember was born in Canada) was also no longer a Canadian citizen because… well, because women weren’t entirely people yet in those days, as far as many governments were concerned. As my grandmother had no other citizenship, this meant that she had actually been a stateless person for several decades!

We don’t know if my grandfather was informed about the revocation of his citizenship. If he was, he never told his wife. Imagine the shock and sense of loss she must have felt at being told that she was no longer a citizen of the only country she’d ever known! Thankfully, the wrong was righted, and my grandmother eventually had her Canadian citizenship restored.

I was born in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and lived there until I moved to Edmonton to go to the U of A. In 2000, I moved from Canada to USA, to do a PhD in particle physics. The experiment I worked on was oddly enough located in Sudbury, Ontario, so in some years I actually spent over 100 days in Canada! While living In the USA as an international student, I met my wife, who is German. We moved to Germany in 2008, because I wanted to learn to be able speak fluently with my family. (It worked.)

I love Canada. I’ve been to every province (seven of them multiple times), and I hope to have the chance to someday visit my family living in Nunavut. We travel to Canada with our two children as often as we can, usually a bit less than once per year. Our children are both proud Canadians who listen to Raffi, are learning to ski and skate, and can sing “O Canada” at the drop of a touque. I hope that at some point in the future, academic jobs will open up for my wife and I, and we’ll be able to return to my home and native land.

Unfortunately, because I’ve resided outside of Canada for over five years, Canada’s election law bars me from voting in Canadian federal elections. Voting is one of the most fundamental rights and responsibilities of a citizen, so when you are barred from voting it means that you are in a very real sense not a full citizen of your country.

It’s hard for me to describe how it feels to be disenfranchised. It certainly makes me very angry. Sometimes it feels almost painful, like somehow, spiritually, a part of me is missing. There is also sadness at being excluded. Prevented from expressing my true patriot love. Unable to stand on guard for the country, by helping to choose its leadership.

The most frustrating part about this exclusion is that it is so unnecessary. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms spells it out in black and white:

3. Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons

The Canada Elections Act is clearly unconstitutional, and I hope that the Supreme Court will find it so when a challenge eventually comes. (You can help with that!) In the meantime, I hope that whenever you hear about Canadian expats, you’ll think about people like me. We are people with deep roots in Canada. We love our country, and we want to continue to be a part of it. It’s just that for reasons of family, occupation, or adventure, we happen to be away for a while.