For Professional Astronomers

Professional astronomers already understand why access to dark skies is so important for research – dark and quiet skies are vital for observing the faintest galaxies, the most distant Kuiper Belt objects, the first stars.  Bright and radio-loud skies limit our ability to explore outer space with our telescopes.  

As professional astronomers, we have many opportunities to talk to members of the general public in different contexts.  Consider putting information about light pollution and the effects of satellite megaconstellations on astronomy research in the courses you teach, your next colloquium lecture, or your next public lecture.  You can also invite a member of the AAS COMPASSE Committee [link] to visit your campus/institution (in person or virtually) for a colloquium lecture or public talk on light pollution.

Here are some resources that professional astronomers can use to teach the general public what light pollution is, and why it’s so devastating to research:

One of the best ways to teach the general public about the detrimental effects of light pollution is through the media. Talk to local journalists about what is happening.  Most local and national news media includes a way to pitch stories directly to the editors.  Did some of your taxpayer-funded research data get ruined by a satellite (or several) flying through?  Did you get a bunch of UFO reports from the general public because a Starlink train flew over your city or a rocket plume was visible?  Did a large number of migratory birds die due to building lighting?  Is a particularly bright development/billboard being planned in your city?  Reach out to your local media and discuss the detrimental effects of rampant light pollution.

Most people in North America do not have easy access to the night sky due to urban light pollution.  Using your telescope skills to show people the beauty of the unpolluted night sky is an extremely powerful way to advocate.  Some possibilities include volunteering at public observing nights at your university/local amateur astronomy club and volunteering to teach kids about the night sky (via programs like Skype A Scientist, local schools, and your local scouting organizations)

Don’t buy internet service from megaconstellations.  If satellite internet is the only option at your location, consider providers that operate from geosynchronous orbit rather than low Earth orbit.  If you do use Starlink, write to them and tell them that you, a paying customer, want them to prioritize dark skies and orbital safety, and voice your concerns about atmospheric pollution.

As a professional astronomer, you can talk to your government representatives at all levels (federal, state, municipal) about light pollution and satellite pollution, and advocate for regulation.  DarkSky International has an advocate network that you can sign up forYou can also advocate for better rural broadband internet access, so that internet from satellites is not necessary. What does broadband coverage look like in your area? US map here: https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/homeAdvocate for regulation of low Earth orbit at the national level, and for pollution regulations for rockets and re-entries.