SQM Connected Program
The Missouri Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association (“IDA Missouri”), in partnership with Truman State University located in Kirksville, Missouri, launched a program entitled "Missouri Sky Quality Meter Program" that deploys Sky Quality Meters ("SQMs") throughout the state of Missouri to measure sky brightness. The SQMs are directed to a fixed point in the sky to log data for scientific analysis and to develop programs to reduce light pollution.
The program launched in October 2019 with eight Sky Quality Meters manufactured by Unihedron. The program continues to expand based on the availability of funding and locations that meet the program's objectives. The SQMs cost between $300.00 and $375.00 each, depending on additional features needed to support an installation site. Funding for purchase of the SQMs is provided by the NASA-Missouri Space Grant Consortium.
Deployment of the SQM's is determined by an application process available to public institutions located in Missouri such as parks and recreational areas, educational institutions and municipalities. Applications are being with installation sites selected based on a variety of criteria such as the scientific usefulness of the data and the potential for the installation site to implement programs to reduce light pollution.
The Missouri Sky Quality Meter Program aligns with IDA Missouri's goal of raising awareness about light pollution issues in Missouri, promoting quality outdoor lighting, protecting our natural environment and our beautiful night sky, and educating the public on how reducing light pollution can lower energy costs.
The program uses a three-step strategy to address the issue of light pollution:
- Quantify the problem via data collection and analysis
- Create awareness about light pollution via public outreach and
- Rectify the problem by encouraging civic authorities and the general public to install night-sky friendly light fixtures and retrofit poorly designed fixtures with appropriate light-shields.
The Sky Quality Meter Device
SQMs come in a hardy weather-proof case to prevent wear-and-tear. They are cylindrical in shape about 7.5 inches in height and 3.5 inches in diameter - approximately the size of a 20-oz water-bottle. The SQMs will be deployed with various options, such as Wi-Fi capability, depending upon the capability of the site. The IDA Missouri/Truman State project team will provide training and support to the installation site.
A sample graph of Sky Brightness Measurements shown in the image provided below illustrates how changes in the sky brightness can be evaluated over time using multiple sensors.
How to Apply to Become A Measurement Site
Applications are now being accepted to become a Missouri Sky Quality Meter Program installation site. Applicants must be located within in the state of Missouri and be a public property such as a federal, state or local park, forest, recreational area, school/college or a municipality. Deployment of the SQM's is expected to start in October 2019.