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The Cultural Heritage of Dark Skies

Presentation #114.03 in the session Dark Sky Heritage and Ethnoastronomy.

Published onJul 01, 2023
The Cultural Heritage of Dark Skies

Dramatic rises in ground-based light pollution in recent years as well as increasingly congested low-Earth orbits are leading to brightening night skies worldwide and to a wide range of consequences impacting astronomical observations, environmental degradation, and the timekeeping and celestial practices of many global cultures. Here, we introduce the American Astronomical Society’s Committee to Protect Astronomy and the Space Environment (COMPASSE; formerly LPRISD), and our current projects and initiatives. We focus here in particular on COMPASSE’s advocacy for the cultural heritage of dark skies and space, and for the constituencies and ecological systems beyond professional astronomy that are reliant on dark and quiet skies, including Indigenous communities and Indigenous sky traditions, animal/bird migratory patterns, amateur astronomy, astrotourism, human/animal circadian rhythms, and the seasonal and pollination cycles of plants. Globally coordinated regulatory policies and mitigation strategies are urgently needed to protect the shared environment and heritage of dark skies. We invite all interested parties to the AAS 242 sessions that COMPASSE members are leading or speaking in, as well as the Light Pollution Open House hosted by COMPASSE at 6-9 PM on Tuesday June 6 where we will screen dark-sky documentaries featuring COMPASSE members.

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