For Students

Once we are aware of the importance and urgency of issues surrounding dark and quiet skies, how can we make a positive contribution? 

It starts with being informed. In doing so you become more aware of the current state of our skies and are also better positioned to actively participate in deciding its future – we have only one, after all. Staying informed can look like finding out what your local lighting codes are, using visualization tools such as to find out what your local levels of light pollution are, staying up to date on current space-related events, or reading papers and articles related to research on effects of the development of our space environment.

Staying informed can also look like talking to others and forming connections with those who are more knowledgeable about these topics. If you are interested in learning more about these issues and don’t know where to start, or what resources you might need, find people who can answer your questions.

To further engage with peers and mentors in discussions of these issues consider attending a conference. There are a number of conferences open for students to attend outside of AAS meetings, including Artificial Light At Night, DarkSky International’s Under One Sky Global Conferences, and ASCEND. Staying informed is essential, but would you prefer to take a more active role in protecting dark and quiet skies? See resources on getting involved in science, policy, and raising awareness below.

Get involved in the science

There is an increasing amount of scientific literature surrounding the effects of recent technological advancements on dark and quiet skies. These topics are new enough that though there is a lot of interest, formal programming, such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), can be difficult to come by. An option is to find these research opportunities through connections made at conferences.

If you are interested in exploring the current work being done, a good starting point for information can be found through the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS).

For the citizen scientist, an exciting way to get involved would be through Globe at Night. The amount of light pollution and its effects on the visibility of the sky are constantly changing – and increasing! According to the Globe at Night website, “More than 200,000 measurements have been contributed from people in 180 countries over the last 14 years.” That’s a lot of citizen scientists!

Get involved in public policy

The Aerospace Corporation, the Secure World Foundation, The Outer Space Institute are examples of space-related policy “think tanks” where research is conducted and policy recommendations are made. Outside of these groups there are many opportunities available for students interested in science policy to make a difference:

AAS Congressional Visits Day: Volunteer to visit DC to talk with your representatives and senators to advocate for federal support of the sciences. This opportunity is only open to AAS members; early-career members are encouraged to apply!

Johns Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship: Coordinate the advocacy and public policy activities of the AAS. This is a postdoctoral-level appointment  


Opportunities in science policy are not just offered by the AAS! Consider taking part in one of the many congressional fellowships sponsored by other professional societies:  

Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) science policy fellowship: A two-year fellowship offering opportunities in science and technology policy areas ranging from energy and environment to STEM education. This is a recent bachelors/masters level appointment.  

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS offers two postdoctoral-level fellowship programs: the AAAS Legislative Branch Fellowship and the AAAS Executive Branch Fellowship.  

Consider also fellowships sponsored by the United States Department of Energy, especially if you are interested in earth-based light pollution:

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Science, Technology and Policy Fellows: Work with the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on policy-related projects. Post-Bachelors/Masters/Graduate level appointments available.

Office of Energy Justice and Equity Fellows: Work with the Office of Energy Justice and Equity on policy-related projects. Post-Bachelors/Masters/Graduate level appointments available.  

National Academies Internships: Congressionally directed studies at the National Academies educate policymakers and host workshops. You can intern with them, too!  

National Space Council (NSpC) Internships: Collaborate with staff and support the NSpC’s daily functioning, meetings, and programs. Targeted towards the undergraduate and graduate level.

Internship programs at NASA are also available and can range the whole gamut from space policy to engineering to STEM outreach and lead to careers in the agency.

Educate your community

With the accelerating effects of technological advances on our skies, raising awareness is as important as ever! Consider:

Local activism and outreach: Start a club on your campus or local community to stay updated and encourage discussion. AAS also provides educational materials to help draft communication/ talks with the general public on these issues

Join your local DarkSky chapter. Do you live near a certified dark sky place? Host events! Enjoy the sky!

Write to your Representative(s) and Senators. Let them know the issues that are important to you, their constituent!

Museums – even the National Museum of Natural History had/has a dark sky exhibit! Ask your local museums if they would host such an idea, too! Connect with your local astrophotographers and amateur astronomy groups