CULTURAL CONNECTION - TURTLE POWER - DARK SKY GRANTS - HELSINKI REPORT

Updated: Dec 12, 2021


CALL OUT FOR DARK SKY ARTISTS

Images: Barkly Regional Arts


Southern Sky call-out for new digital works


Call for Expressions of Interest for visual, digital, dance or performing artists

Michael Sollis is looking to work with artists to create collaborative digital works that explore what the stars mean from a diversity of perspectives. Artist fees of up to $2,000 are offered for each artist. We’re looking to work with artists from different mediums – visual/digital/ dance/other, and diverse backgrounds.

Artists are invited to take inspiration from the music of Southern Sky to create collaborative digital work that interprets or is inspired by the music. Artists will be paid to research the initial project, storyboard ideas and create a 1-5 minute video, animation, live drawing, performance (or other) that interprets the themes explored in Southern Sky. The works will be shared with audiences via digital platforms such as social media, website and YouTube. Artists can create anything from a 1-minute animation using an excerpt of a piece, to the accompaniment of a whole piece, which ranges from 2-5 minutes.


We are accepting Expressions of Interest until 31 October 2021, to be sent through to projects@michaelsollis.com, more info can be found at www.michaelsollis.com/southern-sky-call-out. If you have any questions please get in touch through the email address above.



 

Illuminating the Impacts of Light Pollution

by Kalycia Singleton (ADSA Youth Ambassador)


The electric lightbulb has been labelled one of the most influential inventions of the modern-day. But is this influence all good?

Light Pollution in Hong Kong (Image by clf5102555 from Pixabay)


Although it may not seem harmful, the detrimental impacts of light on human and ecosystem health have been reported as a research blind spot. However, another frightening side of this issue is just being illuminated- light pollution may be operating as a form of cultural genocide.



What is Light Pollution?

Light pollution limits our visibility of the natural night sky. It is the result of the excessive use of artificial lighting and is most common in built-up industrial areas, where outdoor lighting reflects into the sky from unnecessarily bright and poorly targeted lighting design. In 2016, it was reported that more than 80% of the world lives under light-polluted skies.


The traditional incandescent (or heated) lightbulbs were phased out over the last decade in favour of more eco-friendly options. While this was highly beneficial, the initial replacements (compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)) have not been without their own issues. Namely, the health effects caused by their blue light (shorter wavelengths) emission.


This light has a wide range of physiological and biological effects on us. Light pollution causes stress to our hormonal systems and disrupts our natural circadian rhythms (our internal day/night cycle). Scientists have identified associations between circadian rhythm disruption and insomnia, depression, heart disease and even cancer.


Similarly, many wildlife creatures rely on these rhythms to complete their basic survival tasks. Pollinators like beetles and moths get distracted and forget to eat or breed. Turtles, fish and birds can lose their way on their migratory paths. Excessive light at night even disrupts normal photosynthesis of some plants.


So light pollution is harmful, but what's the cultural importance of being able to see the stars?

The Southern Cross from the Kalahari (with visible Coalsack Nebula) (Photo by Vernon Swanepoel from flickr)

Indigenous Australian Astronomical Knowledge


Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders are the oldest astronomers on this planet. These complex knowledge systems intertwine science with storytelling, forming a way of understanding, explaining and predicting nature.


Astronomy is a large element of these traditions. Creation stories include both the land below and the sky above. The stars home ancestors and spirits, operating as law books to remind people of important life lessons. As light pollution blocks access to seeing the stars, it also blocks this cultural connection.


Furthermore, it risks continuing the damage to Indigenous communities' knowledge and languages caused by colonisation. Light pollution threatens cultural continuity, or the ability for the culture to be passed onto the next generation.


Until recently, the Australian school curriculum only taught the European names and histories of the stars. Indigenous Astronomical Knowledge has recently been added to the National Curriculum, with insightful resources compiled for Grade 5 and 8 students, incorporating this knowledge into seven key learning areas. This is a vital move in recognising the importance of conserving Indigenous knowledge and languages.


What Can We Do to Reduce Light Pollution?

Fortunately, it is possible to reverse light pollution- unlike most other forms of pollution. You can make a difference by only using lighting when necessary, drawing the blinds to keep light inside at night, and using sensor lights outside your home at night.


A few other ways forward include using ADSA approved night-friendly lighting and better urban lighting design (such as intelligent street lighting). Better regulation of LED lighting and more independent research into alternative lighting. And importantly- keep supporting, platforming and listening to Indigenous voices in science!


Conserving the night sky, and the associated Indigenous knowledge systems is just as important as our attempts to save any other ecosystem on our planet.



LEARN MORE AT OUR UPCOMING WEBINAR


Safeguarding astronomical heritage from the erasure of light pollution


20 OCTOBER 6pm AEDT

A/Prof Duane Hamacher

FREE

emu artwork by Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney, image Peter Lieverdink


Light pollution is actively destroying our ability to see the stars. Indigenous knowledge systems around the world are based on the stars, and the peoples' ability to observe and interpret stellar positions and properties is of critical importance for daily life and cultural continuity today. Efforts to reduce, minimise, or eliminate light pollution are being achieved with varying degrees of success, but urban expansion, poor lighting design, and the increased use of blue-light emitting LEDs as a cost-effective solution are worsening problems related to human health, wildlife, and astronomical heritage for the benefit of capitalistic economic growth.


Duane Hamacher is Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the ARC Centre of Excellence in All-Sky Astrophysics in 3-Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) within School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. Duane researches cultural astronomy, Dark Sky studies, astronomical heritage, and the history and philosophy of science.


 

TURTLE POWER - 2 NOVEMBER 2021

7.30 pm

“All of the world’s sea turtle populations are considered rare or threatened and out of the six species that live in Australia, three nest along the Bundaberg Region’s beaches,” said. Mayor Jack Dempsey, from Bundaberg Council.


Residents and businesses in the area are being encouraged to flick the switch in support of the region's nesting turtles as part of the upcoming Milbi Festival's Turtle Hour event.


The initiative aims to spread awareness about the negative impact artificial light has on nesting sea turtles and hatchlings. “Too much artificial lighting can deter adult turtles from nesting and confuse hatchlings.” Mayor Dempsey said the Bundaberg Region has a “duty of care” to protect the local turtle population.


The world-renowned coastline is a turtle nesting site and Mon Repos is an important natural area. “This has been highlighted in many aspects of Council work, including the recent upgrade to the Mon Repos carpark which has been created to use as little artificial light as possible, the eco-build of the Mon Repos Turtle Centre and Council’s Reducing Urban Glow initiative.”


The event is part of Bundaberg Regional Council’s Reducing Urban Glow initiative. To find out more visit www.knowyourglow.com.au

 

Helsinki conducts study to find ways of reducing light pollution

Inappropriate and excessive use of artificial light harms the environment and wastes energy


Many people today are unaware of how the use of artificial light can impact ecosystems, harm organisms, and waste energy. More specifically, they do not realise that light is a type of pollutant that can have negative consequences on the surrounding environment. For this reason, they often install lighting in inappropriate and inefficient ways.


Understanding this, the Finnish City of Helsinki has conducted a study to find ways of reducing light pollution in the urban environment. On 4 October, the capital reported that it has asked the city’s residents to participate in a survey and help map out areas with improper lighting. A total of 1,500 people responded, giving 4,000 map entries.


What did the study find?

Based on the survey, background studies, and other types of research, the City of Helsinki was able to pinpoint the most common sources of light pollution. Some of these reportedly include advertising screens, yard lighting, and construction sites, among others. Commenting on the study, Planning Manager Pia Rantanen shared:

“This study serves as a basis for the future goal that Helsinki is an undisturbed urban environment. In practice, this means that Helsinki has lower light contrasts, a more harmonious night landscape and urban space, and a brighter starry sky. This requires responsible lighting in both public and private areas.”

In a press release, Helsinki shared that it has published a report featuring guidelines for the design of environmentally friendly lighting. In this publication, the city shares its findings and explains that inappropriate and excessive use of lighting can cause irritation, affect safety, and harm the environment. According to the municipality, it is the first report of its kind in Finland.


Lighting designer Annukka Larsen clarified that the city’s study cannot solve the problem of light pollution as it only seeks to find ways of reducing it. In other words, it is now up to the municipality’s various organisations and bodies to collaborate, use the findings, and take action.


 







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