Although western Queensland is renowned for its dark night skies, plenty of stargazers out west are getting ready to help set a world record in measuring light pollution on Sunday night.
Among them are the Cosmos Centre at Charleville and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton, one of only 12 dark-sky sanctuaries in the world.
Marnie Ogg, the CEO and founder of the Australasian Dark Sky Alliance said thousands of people would be stepping outside on the longest night of the year to help researchers create a map of Australia's darkest skies, and learn about light pollution and its effect on people, animals, and astronomy.
If they register and watch a short video beforehand, they can be part of a Guinness World Record attempt for 'Most users to take an online environmental sustainability lesson in 24 hours'.
If asked what the big polluting offenders are, people would likely point to plastic or fossil fuels, but authorities say light pollution is one of the fastest growing pollutants around the globe.
In the natural world, artificial light can disorient animals and plants and affect the availability of food.
For example, it can stop turtle hatchlings from finding the ocean, interfere with the movement of pollinating insects, and cause birds such as shearwaters to collide with structures.
"Light pollution doesn't just disrupt our view of The Milky Way. It disturbs wildlife, disrupt people's sleep, and represents wasted electricity," Ms Ogg said.
"The information will help councils plan for darker skies and create opportunities for tourism.
"Dark sky parks and tours are already popping up around the country."
By measuring and mapping light pollution, organisers say Australia will develop its reputation as a star-gazing and astro-tourism destination, and help councils develop dark sky planning guidelines and tourism opportunities.
All the observations from Sunday night will be added to the database of Globe at Night, an international scientific research program that crowdsources measurements of light pollution in the night sky.
At set time periods within each year, the project asks people to report the stars they can see from their location to the project's website.
The coordinating researchers compile this information to produce a public, freely available map of global light pollution that can be used by researchers and the broader public.
The project is supported by the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, which has produced The National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife.
The world record attempt starts from 1pm AEST on Sunday, June 21 and follows nightfall around the world.
The Australian Age of Dinosaur's Kate Louis said there had been lots of interest on their social media promotions of the attempt.
"People didn't realise it affected humans and animals but that it's something that we can fix," she said.
How the World Record Light project works
- You will need a computer, smartphone or tablet with an internet connection to take part.
- Sign up
- Sign in on 21 June from 1pm AEST.
- Watch some videos, answer all five questions, and do a night sky observation after dark, using the Globe at Night web app as directed on the project website. Participants in the southern hemisphere will be looking for the Southern Cross (aka the Crux constellation), and the constellation of Bootes for the northern hemisphere.
- Don't be put off by the weather: observations are valid even if it's cloudy or raining.
- Observations are uploaded to the international Globe at Night dataset in real time.
- Finish all parts of the lesson within 24 hours.
- Note that Guinness World Records officials may take several weeks to confirm the status of this attempt.