Southeast Selected as Dark Sky Site

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Southeast Missouri State University has been selected as a Dark Sky Site for the Missouri Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association’s research.

Southeast’s Department of Chemistry and Physics applied to take part in research conducted at Truman State University through the Dark-Sky Association. The Dark-Sky Association aims to protect the night sky through environmental responsibility.

A “Sky Quality Meter” was recently installed on the roof of Rhodes Hall.

“The sensor takes a reading of the brightness of the sky above it every five minutes and writes it to an internal memory. Data is collected twice monthly and sent to Truman State University, which is the coordinating institution,” said Dr. Michael Cobb, Southeast professor of physics.

Southeast applied to participate in Truman’s research and was selected as a Dark Sky Site because researchers at Truman were looking for sites across the state. There is a meter placed at Southeast, in Perryville and several at dark sites in Missouri state parks. The goal is to use the collected data to raise awareness about light pollution.

“The project is really about human light pollution, measuring it and seeing how it affects the sky. We’ll be comparing and contrasting and keeping track of how things go over time,” said Cobb. “Many people have lights that point up into the sky and add to light pollution. Some cities even have light ordinances where lights have to point down and be covered.”

Cobb said, “Missouri is interested in promoting dark skies as a resource. Global warming and climate change effect weather and how clear the skies are. As climate change goes on, the number of cloudy skies increases. The meters give us an easy way to watch that.”

In the future, physics students at Southeast and other participating institutions will have access to the data collected by the meters for additional research.

For information about the International Dark-Sky Association, visit https://www.darksky.org/.

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