I first heard of GLOBE at Night when I literally bumped into its creator, Connie Walker. First I should tell you she is one of the friendliest and bubbliest people I have met. And if you ask her about GLOBE at Night she’ll tell you that it is a citizen science campaign (that means you, no matter who you are or what you do or how old you are, you are the scientist) that collects data on light pollution from around the world. Last year people in over 90 countries submitted over 16,000 observations. Unfortunately, my location was not an enthusiastic contributor. In fact, I was the only one.

No matter how many or how often I peppered friends and acquaintances with “You should participate in GLOBE at Night! It’s easy!” I never saw any new dots pop up on the map in Fayetteville, AR. My lonely observations continued to be lonely. During the last GLOBE at Night campaign I decided to try something different. Somehow, I convinced the honors college at the University of Arkansas that a great event would include a focus on light pollution.

A few quick months later Ian Cheney, from Wicked Delicate Films, was in Fayetteville with his light pollution focused documentary “The City Dark.” Connie Walker, creator of the GLOBE at Night campaign, was right there with him. We held two events. First, interested citizens came out to meet our guests and hear what they had to say about light pollution. During a clouded-out star party Walker was still able to demonstrate the Unihedron Sky Quality Meter and how to make observations for GLOBE at Night.

The next night, Cheney’s film was shown to what I later found out was the largest crowd to ever attend one of his screenings. And this all happened at the beginning of the last GLOBE at Night campaign of 2012.

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Dr. Steve Boss captured this shot of the over 600 person audience at the screening of "The City Dark" at the University of Arkansas. (Photo by Dr. Stephen K. Boss, University of Arkansas)


Many individuals went into making these events a huge success, and their hard work put Fayetteville, finally, on the GLOBE at Night map. Dr. Steve Boss encouraged students in his introductory sustainability class to participate for a class project. My observations were not alone last year, and we were organized.

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Tucson, AZ was the first city to participate in Adopt-A-Street. The before (L) and after (R) shots show the increased participation and organization.


The Adopt-A-Street program was coming to Fayetteville. This program makes it possible for a community to create a ‘transit’ of the city. It is an organized grid-like view of the city. Major roads are included for citizens to ‘Adopt’ by simply entering their name on the city’s website. After adopting a street he or she just has to drive down the road stopping every once in a while to look up, make an observation, write it down to submit on a computer later or record on a smart phone, and then move on down the road to stop a mile later, and so on until an entire road has observations of light pollution approximately every mile. If enough people do this for the major roads of the city the entire city’s light pollution is mapped. It is actually possible to see the drop in light pollution at the city limits.

Before all of these events Dr. Steve Boss and Connie Walker worked together to turn Fayetteville into the second city to ever participate in Adopt-A-Street. Originally a program for Tucson (and eventually to be spread worldwide) the leaders of GLOBE at Night had not yet had a city to reach out to. Fayetteville was this city and the results were not disappointing.

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Fayetteville, AR before and after participating in Adopt-A-Street. From 3 observations to over 100!


Dots lined the major roads of Fayetteville and peppered the downtown. For the first time ever many people had participated in this college town and I hadn’t had to bother any of them to do it. After the successes of Adopt-A-Street in Tucson, AZ and Fayetteville, AR this year it is no longer limited to one or even two cities. It is global. This means you, you right now reading this, can start it up in your community.

It isn’t just about making observations for a citizen science campaign. These are real results of data that can be used to motivate real change. In Fayetteville, the community collectively agreed that the sparsely enforced lighting ordinance needed to be improved. This year I expect to see an even greater participation from Fayetteville as they plan their events around the campaign dates once again. And with more data comes more reason to improve. Bring these results to the community government, show them what can be improved, and change will begin.

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The global map of results from last year's GLOBE at Night reaching over 16,000 observations coming from over 90 countries.


I’ve also seen science fair projects focused on the results of the campaign. Imagine what a student could do with results from his or her whole community! GLOBE at Night provides the first opportunity for you to ‘see’ the problem and share proof of why it should be fixed.

The first thing to do is to read about Adopt-A-Street and sign up. Then you just need to add in street names (25 is recommended, but less are also welcome) that citizens can adopt. Finally, go out and tell everyone. Have a star party with a computer set up where people can sign up for a street they want. Host a showing of “The City Dark” like we did in Fayetteville and people will go home to their computers to sign up. Or come up with a new idea (but share it with us on Facebook or Twitter so we can tell everyone your great idea!).

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This year GLOBE at Night will also be having a competition to see what cities can collect the most data points through the Adopt-A-Street program. IDA will be providing the prizes. To learn more about this competition keep an eye on the GLOBE at Night webpage for updates and to see updates about the prizes visit the IDA’s website.


GLOBE at Night is a citizen science campaign for you to make a difference in your community. Adopt-A-Street is the way to lead change.

Visit for more information. Join GLOBE at Night on Facebook and Follow on Twitter @GLOBEatNight.





Amee DSAAmee Hennig is a writer & program manager at the International Dark-Sky Association. She works with parks, reserves, communities, and people around the world to promote dark sky awareness and add to the International Dark Sky Places. Amee graduated from the University of Arkansas with a B.S. in physics and English, creative writing. While in college Ameé did research at the University of Arkansas, McDonald Observatory in West Texas, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, and also worked as an astronomy education intern at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Follow her on Twitter @AstropoetAmee and Facebook and visit her blog.


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