Save Our Stars (SOS)

Coming Spring 2014

What is SOS?

SOS is a new IDA outreach initiative intended to help people learn about astronomy, participate in star gazing events, and hear presentations on light pollution. The message they will hear encourages them to promote the principles of dark sky conservation in their homes and communities. The program goals are to:



• Raise awareness of light pollution
• Reignite youth interest in amateur astronomy
• Promote astronomy outreach
• Introduce families to the beauty of the night sky and promote stargazing as an educational, engaging, inexpensive family activity
• Introduce children to the value and importance of protecting our heritage of dark skies
• Educate children (and the adults in their lives) about light pollution and give them information on how they can act to reduce or eliminate it

After hearing a 30-minute demonstration on light shielding and measuring the brightness of the night sky, event-goers will view the night sky through telescopes. SOS programming will be put on at suburban or rural sites where the night sky quality is decidedly better than in urban locations. We have deliberately avoided including sidewalk astronomy-type settings because we feel it is important to conduct events in places that are dark enough that participants can "see what they're missing" otherwise under bright city skies.

IDA plans to first engage astronomy clubs in the U.S. where we can test and tweak the SOS program; later, in collaboration with Astronomers Without Borders, we plan to export the program to the rest of the world. For this reason, the materials and message are designed to be simple enough to reproduce anywhere. The philosophy of SOS is to keep it simple and promote the idea that "the stars are for everyone," in all places and all times.

What do participating organizations receive?

IDA will provide participating organizations with program materials and support services to help promote and grow the program to include an increasing number of participating groups with time. These include materials, freebies such as t-shirts and free IDA memberships for committed volunteers, discounted memberships for any members of clubs with sustained SOS programs, incentives and awards, and permission to use the IDA name and logo in marketing and outreach efforts.

What are participants obligated to do?

We ask that participating clubs put on SOS programming at least 2-3 times a year, and inform IDA ahead of time so we can help publicize and promote the events. Each participating club should (1) identify one or more volunteer SOS hosts who will present the programming, and (2) establish a dark-sky observing site within easy reach of an urban area , preferably less than one hour by car. Finally, we hope participating clubs will stay in frequent contact with IDA, sharing photos and narratives about events. We would love to help spread the word about good things astronomy clubs are doing to promote the dark skies ideal, and we hope SOS will be the flagship effort in that regard.

How to participate

If your amateur astronomy club or civic organization is interested in being a part of SOS, please contact the program manager, John Barentine, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 520-293-3198

Participating Clubs