We’d really appreciate any feedback by Sunday 12 November.
We’re putting together an arts project — SKYGLOW — exploring the impacts of skyscape degradation.
We’ve prepared a short questionnaire to gather your thoughts and suggestions about the project. It is accessed as a Google Form:
Your perspective is crucial in helping us shape a project that aligns with the local astronomical community’s knowledge and interests. As well as being of interest to local communities more generally.
Below is brief description of the project that has been provided to early-stage supporters and partners:
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SKYGLOW combines astronomy, ecology, and the arts to explore the impact of humanity on the more-than-human world. Using a concept that stretches from the stars to the soil, it will enable participants and audiences to consider anthropogenic imprints on the environment from both a deep-time and a deep-space perspective.
The project is rooted in the fact that the stars are vanishing before our eyes. A major study by NOIRLab has shown that the sky is deteriorating so rapidly that a child born beneath 250 stars today will only see 100 of them by their eighteenth birthday.
The source of this vanishing is skyglow: the pervasive luminosity caused by human-made pollution that floods the night sky.
This visible loss of stars represents a poignant loss of cultural heritage. Historically, an impressive view of the starry sky has underpinned much modern, indigenous, and classical cultural identity: from myths, to pilgrimage routes, to sacred structures.
However, skyglow also has a significant ecological impact. In disrupting the cyclical transition from sunlight to starlight that biological systems have evolved with over millions of years, species behaviour, physiology, and ecosystem structures are altered and confused. This disturbance is critical, as over half of all Earth’s species are nocturnal.
The problem is now being exacerbated by the proliferation of low-orbit satellites, with artificial mega-constellations like Starlink increasing by a factor of fifty. While the first half-century of space exploration saw 1,000 such bodies, it’s likely they will number 100,000 by the end of the decade.
This interdisciplinary project will be delivered in partnership with Lancashire Wildlife Trust (LWT), and the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute (JHI) at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Twelve young people will be given the chance to participate in a cross-disciplinary workshop programme aimed at developing a series of eco-theatrical plays for public performance.
Project participants will firstly learn about the scientific and cultural dimensions of skyglow with lecturers from the JHI. We also hope to take them to JHI’s Alston Observatory near Preston, offering a glimpse of the cosmos as they’ve never seen it before.
They will also attend a site-based workshop with naturalists from LWT, delving into the ecological impacts of light pollution at both a global and hyper-local scale. Lastly, Theatre in the Rough will deliver a workshop on the theory and practice of eco-theatre, as well as providing ongoing one-on-one dramaturgical support.
Armed with this knowledge, the participants will develop a series of original short plays on the topic. These will be produced for public performance at an LWT site in Lancashire, beneath the stars and surrounded by nature. We will also publish the plays to support the live experience.
The project is intended to launch in February 2024, and culminate in May.