top of page

Action Ideas

Here are some actions to lessen your impact on the nighttime environment.  Many are linked to concrete examples taken from my blog posts, activities, and projects .  You can do this!

100+ Ways to Give Up Light


(click image to follow link; put cursor on image for text)


Envision a Genesis Night. Describe a nighttime area of environmental concern. Defend what is at risk of being lost.


It would be a treat to see the night sky from Stonehenge. Make "Ricehenge" for a night treat and envision the dark sky of centuries ago.


Camp overnight at a star party. You don't even need to own a telescope. For the annual Michiana Star Party, see


Find your place as seen from space. What does this image tell you?


If you don't go outside, at least take a sustained look out a window at night.


Engineered solutions sometimes exist. Advocate for the least harmful. Offer these tips to your local government.


The International Space Station and other satellites can be visible if you look up at the right time. Subscribe to Spot the Station, or explore Heavens-Above.


Get some chalk and draw a celestial scheme on the sidewalk. Help others take a moment to consider the night sky.


Follow a celestial event, like a meteor shower. Set up a chair, cover up in a blanket, and watch a heavenly spectacle. You can make a simple star chart on a paper plate to plot the point from which the meteors seem to radiate.


Read Walt Whitman's "The Learned Astronomer." Then look up in perfect silence at the stars.


Find your local astronomy club through the NASA Night Sky Network. Then see what they're doing. Around South Bend, IN, it's


Ask your 4-H leader to consider bringing Skynet Junior Scholars to your community. Youths remotely control research-grade telescopes located around the world.


Peruse an archive of old moon photos. Spend time with them. Then gaze at the real moon and let your mind soar.


Help kids get under the stars from a dark site. Register for AstroCamp directly through YMCA Camp Eberhart. For images from past years, visit


Turn it off. Get away from your electronic devices late at night, and replace that time with an off-the-grid activity.


Plan now for the 2017 solar eclipse, when the sun disappears behind the moon on Monday, August 21. It will almost be like night, but with stars visible midday.


Look for art that celebrates astronomy. Sometimes your appreciation for night will come from your discoveries by day.


Ask a gallery about coordinating an exhibit that features the night. When the South Bend schools (SBCSC) celebrated a unique comet, the student art was amazing.


Notice the interplay of two shadows around your house. Compare that to the two shadows of a lunar eclipse. Put on your calendar the next lunar eclipse.


Map out a solar system to scale for your community. Maybe even implement it. Get people around you to see the solar system in a new perspective.


Orion is prominent toward the south in the winter. Follow its three belt stars down and to the left to find the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius.


Show how light bends. Aim two red lasers through a lens and a dish of gelatin to trace the path of light. Switch lenses and repeat.


If the power goes out, you go out. Be prepared to measure the quality of the night sky when a nearby power outage introduces a variable. Power loss ain't all bad.


Set up a telescope the night of fireworks.


Measure a dark place in your community. Use Dark Sky Meter app on clear nights with no moon. Establish baselines so we know what is at risk.


Find local artists who celebrate space in their handiwork. Art is all about light. In South Bend, for example, Danl DuRall goes bold.


Look at the moon. Then envision someone looking back.


Print out a Night Sky Treasure Map to find select constellations. Practice by day, then venture out at night for the real thing.


Recognize poor lights. More of them are surely coming. Take some first steps toward advocating for dark skies.


Seek atmospheric phenomena. Halos can surround both the sun and the moon. Look up.


"Cultivate educated, informed, and contributing residents." -Therese Dorau, City of South Bend Director of Sustainability


Find friends who support the night sky and thank them.


Rediscover shadows--inside, outside, overlapping, all kinds. Objects are often sufficiently defined even if you lessen the brightness. How much light do you need?


Visit an observatory that opens to the public. Ask questions. Around Michiana, ask about observatories at Indiana University-South Bend, University of Notre Dame, or Andrews University. (Shown is Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI.)


Make something out of a paper plate that relates to the sky or astronomy. Investigate with low tech.


What dynamics are happening in the sky tonight? Visit Spaceweather and witness action.


Distribute Galileoscopes to local library branches. Patrons then borrow the scopes with their lending cards.


Envision cultures using natural light to establish their place in the universe. Construct your own model by drawing lines to sun locations at the equinoxes and solstices.


Make lemonade out of lemons. Repurpose or recycle poor lighting or fixtures. Install fully shielded lights. If using LEDs, be sure they are rated for less than 3000K (look on the packaging). Shown is installation at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.


Chalk out a story in a public space. Make a challenge out of discerning star colors, such as the Albireo Game.


Be speechless.


Compare your backyard view of Orion to six star charts. Which number are you? Please submit your number--one to six--to Globe at Night.


Challenge whether community art should aim lights skyward. A practice that degrades the night environment suggests a lack of imagination when good lighting options exist.


Support a child doing a science fair project. Let a school know well in advance that you are available to mentor for astronomy-themed projects. Shown is Sorry Starry Night.


Plot sky glow to establish a baseline. If you don't know what you've got, you can't define what is at risk of being lost.


Advocate for better lighting practices in your community. Offer constructive comments and solutions at public meetings, and build consensus that the night has value.


Find areas that can be improved. Share your ideas with stakeholders.


Lights aimed offshore overwhelm navigation lights. Same woe for airplane pilots.


On clear nights with no moon, measure and submit the quality of the night sky with a simple phone app, the Dark Sky Meter.


Can't go wrong with sidewalk chalk!


Celebrate Indiana's 200th anniversary by finding its Bicentennial Star in the Great Square of Pegasus. Remember, half of all history occurred between sunset and sunrise.


Mentor a youth. Share your appreciation of the night sky.


If the weather had abated and the skies had cleared, what night sky would Dennis Hale have seen while awaiting rescue?


Set up a telescope on the path. Or support someone else who is doing sidewalk astronomy. Introduce wonder to passers-by.


Get ready before sunrise for the 2016 transit of Mercury on Monday, May 9. Black Drop Effect Coffee is sold by Victorian Pantry in Granger, IN.


AstroCamp is getting your hands on telescopes along the shore of Corey Lake. Unplug and look up.


It's coming! The sun disappears August 21, 2017. Get ready for the eclipse. Artist Antoine Caron (French, 1521-1599) depicts Dionysius telling his vision of a solar eclipse. Image courtesy of the Getty Museum.


Miss South Bend takes time to investigate and to appreciate less light at night. Will you do the same?


Visit an art space best seen at night. The Birdsell in South Bend, IN, comes to mind.


Read a book series by local authors who value the night. In South Bend, IN, authors Benji and Ila Woolet wrote a series for young adults.


Patronize businesses that support observing opportunities. In South Bend, IN, thank the Meehans at Fiddler's Hearth Public House.


Pull out an unused telescope or binoculars. If the device is admittedly cheap, daytime viewing may be hard enough. Aim toward local architecture and discover something new. Then keep up the momentum and look at the moon.

Platisphere- Alkaid touching.jpg

Find the north star Polaris. Use the Big Dipper or Cassiopeia.


Half of all those years occurred between sunset and sunrise. How has our nighttime contribution to carbon use changed? What will be your role in changing the trend?


Encourage your municipality to install fully-shielded lights. Once you have any new lights, you have them for a long time. Get it right.


Make patterns from the gray shapes within the moon. What do you see? Meanwhile, look for upcoming occultations with prominent stars, which you can witness with the naked eye.


Seize night opportunities. In South Bend, IN, the Notre Dame Department of Physics sometimes hosts public viewing with its telescopes atop Jordan Hall of Science. Carpe noctem.


Envision a first midnight. South Bend's sesquicentennial, for example, celebrated history through starlight.


Notice the so-called "morning star" or "evening star." What is it? How is it changing?


Share your holiday cheer--and zeal for celestial spectacle--with a digital card that uses a Hubble Space Telescope image.


Do more Bus Stop Astronomy under the morning sky. Set up a scope for both the kids and parents, for there is often much to see in the AM.


Catch a beam of light splitting into its component colors, and watch it change throughout the day.


Connect the night sky to history. Ruchbah earns the title Centennial Star of the National Park Service, and it's among the stars targeted by observers monthly at Kemil Beach in 2016.


What is your blotch on the landscape--your light-print? Here is South Bend/Mishawaka from a couple hundred miles up. Why are your tax dollars being wasted to light up the bottom of the International Space Station? Ask your municipality to fully shield its streetlights.


Heavens above, it's the International Space Station visible overhead. ISS predictions warn you of viewing opportunities. Call others to join you outside as the manned station zips around the earth.


Prevent breast cancer beyond one pink-intensive month. Install the f.lux app to lessen your blue light exposure. You'll perhaps save much more than just photons.


As a community, measure how much of the night sky has been lost to light pollution. Quantify the quality of the night sky with your own data.


Look up some amazing images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Be awed. Those objects are out there, deep in the darkness, with their respective photons gently striking your eye--only it takes a behemoth like Hubble to convert so few photons into stunning imagery.


Find names with astronomical connotations embedded in local spaces.


Discover a dark sacred night. Hum "It's a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong.


Support an after-school program. In South Bend, IN, Dr. Kate Rueff helps youths process celestial images with DS-9 software.


Notice how often we use stars to symbolize the ideals we value, such as in our icons and symbols. Value the real stars, too.


Make something that complements the night.


Depict the separation of light and darkness. Michelangelo crafted this; what's your masterpiece?


Careful. You don't want blue wavelengths at night that coincide with the peak sensitivity of your circadian system. Lessen your blues.


Yes, it's AstroCamp, with a big scope and clearing skies. Youths aged 9+ learn how to handle telescopes and find deep space objects under the guidance of experienced astronomy educators. Sign up directly through YMCA Camp Eberhart.


Spread the word. Speak up for the night.


A planet in the daytime sky? You should see how bright the planet Venus is. At night, what's the faintest star you can see?


Step out in weather that normally keeps you in. What moves in a mighty wind at night? How is your experience different by day?


From this side it looks serene. From the ship's perspective, glaring shoreside lights add clutter and they make navigation lights difficult to discern. Shield your lights.


Speak your opinion about municipal lighting practices. Without correction, they can readily get worse.


Create or participate in a treasure hunt for which a telescope or binoculars is requisite. For example, see Scope Out South Bend.


Look outside before sunrise and after sunset. Anticipate serendipity. Here sunlight is reflected off a Chicago skyscraper as seen from Michigan.


Encourage artists to share their vision of the night.


If you're gonna watch a documentary, put The City Dark in the queue.


Get outside.


Attend a star party. The 8th Michiana Star Party is at Dr. TK Lawless County Park in May 2016. Here's a typical itinerary.

NW-SQM data-Granger.png

Clear Sky Chart features unique weather interests for astronomers. Find one near you.


Thank friends who share the goodness of the night.


Support the night in a public space. Partner with an artist or art group. In South Bend, IN, artist Christopher Stackowicz has led such community action.


Join the astronomy teams at Science Alive, the annual family science outing at St. Joseph County Public Library (SJCPL).

Comet Festival : poster.jpg

Encourage your school district to watch a celestial event unfold as a community science adventure.


Take advantage of public access to spacecraft. You can predict clear skies by interpreting the latest satellite images yourself. When it's clear, get under the stars.


Use balloons to tell the story of light.


Measure sky quality with a Sky Quality Meter.


Imagine earth from a different time and space. Seek new perspectives that emerge when a place is not over-lit.


Strive to lessen glare, light trespass, and sky glow. If upgrading lights, purchase only full cutoff (fully shielded) fixtures.


Get a vanity plate that supports a good cause in your state. Promote astronomy on the road.

Creation Care Activities

Dozens of action items for more sustainable living are each accompanied by an excerpt from Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si'.


Click image to open Creation Care Activities in new page.  Courtesy of SPX Creation Care.

Light Fast

Giving up light.

Here's a proposed "fast" to give up wasteful light.   Peruse the 100-plus ideas and examples to become more aware of wasted light's impingement on the natural order.  Then act to lessen your impact on the night. 

Value the night; go with less light.

"Featuring a list of action items, Light Fast combines secular and sacred endeavors to conserve light at night.  Light Fast entreats you to take inventory of your light consumption, pare your waste of photons, and enlist others to value darkness for the benefit of creation.  ​​Whereas some people give up a vice for Lent, only to return to consumption afterward, Light Fast encourages you to give up wasteful light for good--'for good' in the sense of forever as well as 'for good' in the sense of for the goodness of all."

-From blog post Light Fast Encourages Awe and Wonder

bottom of page