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For Teachers

Resources to support you in the classroom.



Over 3,400 students observed Orion, recorded their estimate of sky glow, and shared results on the PHM spreadsheet. Thank you, teachers, for insuring their efforts contributed to PHM's overall success. We compiled the observations and distributed maps of the results and supporting questions to each 3-8 teacher.

To see what's happening at individual PHM schools, see the district map at /phm.html. More LTBN news, events, satellite predictions, and website additions are at /whatsnew.html.

The 3D model of results will be visiting each PHM school per the following schedule:

October 5-9            Prairie Vista
October 12-16         Discovery
October 19-23         Horizon
October 26-29         North Point (No school on 30th) (updated 09-10-09)
November 2-6         Mary Frank (updated 09-10-09)
November 9-13        Bittersweet
November 16-20       Walt Disney
November 30-4        Elsie Rogers
December 7-11         Schmucker
December 14-18       Moran
January 4-8              Elm Rd.
January 11-15          Meadow’s Edge
January 19-22          Grissom  (No School on 18th)
January 25-29          Madison

LEGO model with "debris"

Key Documents

Handout with analysis in 4 PDF files delivered to each 3-8 teacher:

Page 1 for students, (or version for teachers)

Page 2 for students, (or same version for teachers)

Page 3 for students, (or version for teachers)

Page 4 for students, (or version for teachers)

Thank you for guiding your students as they explore dark sky issues. After a visit to the PHM planetarium, students in grades 3-8 will gather data both with their eyes and with instruments to quantify the sky glow of our local sky relative to a theoretically pristine sky. We want to measure the brightness of the night sky within our school district to determine how much has already been lost. While all grade levels will observe the constellation Orion, a team of students from each school will have added responsibilities as they correlate the sky glow observed by the naked eye with sky glow measured by the meter.

Why Should I Care? As stewards of the night, we are all responsible for the energy and money, natural resources, animal habitats, and human well-being that are at risk.

At the Planetarium

As part of the regular visit to the planetarium, over 6,000 students in grades 3-8 will attend an interactive program. Under the dome they will experience three side effects (glare, light trespass, and sky glow) from an unshielded light; try solutions that they propose; and practice the outdoor experiment. Terri Mellor of Elm Road compiled a 9-slide PowerPoint presentation that prepares students for the visit. Teachers are welcome to use her Summary of Outdoor Lighting Issues before or after a visit to the planetarium.

Under the Stars

Sky Quality Meter LensWith guidance from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), all students in grades 3-8 will quantify the limiting magnitude of the stars by observing Orion from home at night. They will then compare their backyard observations of Orion with six star charts that having increasing numbers of visible stars. Small student teams from each of 14 schools will concurrently quantify sky glow throughout the district using hand-held Sky Quality Meters (SQMs).

Let There Be Night relates directly to the scientific method. The question we are asking: "How much of the night sky have we already lost?" Experimental controls are considered. Observations will coincide with the New Moon so that the moon does not influence the brightness. Observations will occur after astronomical twilight (when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon) so that the sun does not contribute light to the night sky. The teams with the SQMs will always observe from the same locations on school grounds to insure continuity and reproducibility. The main variable in quantifying sky glow across our community is location. For the naked eye observations, over 6,000 students observing from home will be spread across 105 square miles of urban, suburban, and rural areas. The digital readings will come from the fourteen school sites.

Society & Technology: When does our society need outdoor lighting, and how do we prioritze the trade-offs of lighting technology?

In the Classroom

Each PHM teacher has received a free Let There Be Night DVD, courtesy of the PHM Educational Foundation and Jordan Toyota. Multiple resources on the DVD complement the planetarium visit, allowing teachers to pick age-appropriate chapters or activities for their respective classes. Teachers, please view these contents and intersperse age-appropriate resources in your classroom with your regular curriculum.

In the last two weeks of March 2009, each student will observe the constellation Orion with the unaided eye. Each night the students will compare their view with six star charts and record the corresponding limiting magnitude on a Student Recording Form.

teacher assisting studentIn the classroom, each teacher will keep a running tally of the students' observations from the night before. At the end of March, the students will enter their average value on a map that shows their school's boudaries.

Each teacher will have a Let There Be Night DVD, which will have chapters of dark sky content for their consideration. Better outcomes are likely if each teacher peruses the DVD and then modifies the material to suit his or her (and the class') needs. Please note that Disc #2 has several folders of valuable content that can be opened from a computer, beyond the five presentations that appear on the menu of a DVD player. If you are unsure how to access those files, see the illustrated instructions for opening Disc 2. Most of those files are also available on the DVD web page.

Teachers will guide the students in answering key questions:

Hear the Podcast: Let There Be Night is featured on the "Gosh Dim It All!" podcast, which was broadcast by the New Media Working Group of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. You can also find it and daily astronomy podcasts at 365 Days of Astronomy. Scroll down to (or find in the Archives) the podcast for Sunday, January 18, 2009.

A Student Leadership Team (below) representing the 14 schools will build a model of the results out of LEGO blocks and present their overall findings and suggest action, if any, to the PHM School Board on May 11, 2009.

Orion book coverThe proposed student experiment has the support of the PHM Administration, PHM school principals, and the PHM School Board of Trustees. However,the motivation and inspiration of the teacher in the classroom are critical for the community's collective success.

Recommended Reading: Sky Lore from Planet Earth: stories from around the world...Orion. Indiana author/illustrator Dayle Brown shares the lore of Orion from multiple cultures in both hemispheres.


Tools for Teachers: The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) offers a collection of tools to assist teachers, with activities, lesson plans, learning resources, brochures, and project ideas.

Globe at Night: Students will view sky charts at and send their results to

Let There Be Night Student Leadership Team

Let There Be Night (LTBN) is gathering one team of 5 students from each PHM school.  Teachers have made recommendations to the school principal, who have named the final candidates. One teacher from each building will oversee the team operation.

The team will meet:

Participants should:

Each Leadership Team will manage its school’s three hand-held Sky Quality Meters (SQMs), which are available for independent science fair projects.   During the Globe at Night (GaN) campaign, March 14-28, the team will take SQM readings from the same spot every night on school grounds, cloudy or clear.  This should only take a couple of minutes. Not all team members need to be together these two weeks, but amongst themselves the team must have coverage for every night.  They will also observe the constellation Orion and estimate light pollution by comparing the number of stars they see from school with several Orion star charts of varying brightness.  Observations must be after astronomical twilight, which is approximately 9:30 p.m. in late March

The teams will meet initially at the PHM Planetarium for a thorough introduction to outdoor lighting issues and Let There Be Night. They will help manage the data within their respective schools during Globe at Night's Orion star count. The team will correlate the sky glow observed with the naked eye by their classmates with sky glow measured by the meter. They will meet again to build a model that conveys the results of the community-wide investigation. And they will present the results and any recommendations to the PHM School Board on May 11, 2009.

Experiment's Question: How much of the night sky have we already lost?

Teacher In-Service Schedule

The Let There Be Night project team of Art Klinger and Chuck Bueter met with the staff of each school for two in-service opportuinites in 2008. The first meeting (below left) introduced outdoor lighting issues and the Let There Be Night program. The second meeting (below right) addressed the nuts and bolts of the program and how teachers can interweave it into their classrooms. Click the date for images of the first round of staff meetings.

School Date Time
Discovery 10  Sep   8:25am 
Mary Frank  22  Sep 2:30pm
Prairie Vista 23  Sep 2:30pm
Grissom 24  Sep 8:25am
Walt Disney 24  Sep 2:30pm 
Elsie Rogers 25  Sep 8:00am 
Madison 25  Sep 2:30pm
Bittersweet 29  Sep 2:30pm
Schmucker 30  Sep 8:25am
Elm Rd 30  Sep 2:30pm
Meadow’s Edge 01  Oct. 7:15am
Horizon 01  Oct 2:30pm
Moran 02  Oct 3:15pm
Northpoint 09  Oct 2:30pm
School Date Time
Bittersweet 04  Nov 2:30pm
Grissom 05  Nov  8:25am
Meadow’s Edge 05  Nov 2:30pm
Schmucker 06  Nov 8:25am
Northpoint 06  Nov 2:30pm
Elm 10  Nov 2:30pm
Discovery 11  Nov 8:25am
Horizon 11  Nov 2:30pm
Elsie Rogers 12  Nov 7:45am
Walt Disney 12  Nov 2:30pm
Madison 17  Nov 2:30pm
Prairie Vista 18  Nov 2:30pm
Moran 19  Nov 3:15pm
Mary Frank 24  Nov 2:30pm

A group of PHM teachers chose Let There Be Night for their professional development meeting on October 15, 2008. Teachers from middle- and elementary-schools met for additional PBA Day instruction on November 13, 2008. We thank them (photo 1, photo 2) for dedicating their professional development time to the LTBN initiative.

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