Question Sheet: Light Night, Dark Stars


Before reading:

  1. When you look out your window or step out of your home at night, do you see

    lots of stars? What influences the number of stars you see?

  2. How does the night sky in a city differ from the night sky in a more rural


During reading:

  1. What features of a city influence the amount of stars you can see at night?
  2. What is light pollution and how does it impact our view of the stars?
  3. Why do astronomers try to build telescopes and observatories far away from

    human civilizations?

  4. Give two examples of how artificial lights affect wildlife.
  5. How do people commonly waste light at night?
  6. What was the goal of “Lights Out San Francisco”?
  7. What steps can a person take to reduce light pollution?

After reading:

  1. How might people help prevent birds from flying into lighted objects?
  2. Take a 45-minute walk with a friend in the early evening. Record any

    examples of light pollution you can find.

  3. Where do you think you’d see more stars: in the middle of a big city like

    New York, or in a small city that is right near a factory? Explain you


  4. On August 14, 2003, a massive blackout shut off the lights in New York City

    and in other parts of the northeastern and Midwestern United States. How might

    an astronomer have observed this event?

  5. Are “Lights Out” events good for cities? Why or why not?
  6. When you hear the word “pollution,” you might think of smog or trash, not

    necessarily light. What does it mean for something to be called “pollution?”

    What types of pollution are there?

  7. Lit-up beaches can impair sea turtle navigation. What kinds of lights might

    shine on beaches at night?

  8. Which types of light do people need, and which types are optional? Make a

    chart to show specific examples of necessary and unnecessary lights.


  1. How does the stargazing in your area compare to the stargazing in other

    states or countries?

  2. What is the closest place to your home where you could go to see the maximum

    number of stars?


  1. Pick one of the websites mentioned in the “Hot Sites & Cool Books”

    section of this article and write a review of the site. Is the site easy to use?

    Is it interesting? What improvements would you suggest?

  2. How has the Hubble Space Telescope changed astronomy? Research the

    telescope, and write an article about it. Have there been controversies about

    the spacecraft? What have scientists learned from it over the years? For help,

    see (NASA).


  1. During the first annual Great Worldwide Star Count, people in 64 countries

    made 6,624 observations over 2 weeks. On average, how many observations were

    made in each country? How many observations did people make per day, on average?

  2. On a clear night, with no clouds, moonlight, or artificial lights to block

    the view, people can see more than 14,000 stars in the sky. Count the stars in a

    section of the night sky where you live and estimate the total number of stars

    you can see in the whole sky. What fraction of 14,000 stars is visible in your