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Unintended Consequences of Artificial Light at Night, AND Solutions

November 13, 2015 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm


Chicago Astronomical Society (established 1862) is hosting a special meeting and panel discussion regarding how misdirected or poorly timed artificial light at night sometimes can have unintended consequences, particularly in certain wavelengths, disrupting chronobiology and circadian sleep physiology, which increases risk of disease and lessening quality of life in humans. It can also be harmful to wildlife, ecosystems, and the environment as well. This is an urgent discussion because Chicago Mayor Emanuel announced in September replacing nearly 350,000 outdoor lights, including streetlights, park and lakefront lights with bright white blue-rich spectrum LEDs which has the potential to increase Chicago’s skyglow 5 times worse than it already is.

The panel will address aspects related to human health, biodiversity, birds, astronomy, economics, energy, and climate and include: Professors Kristen L. Knutson, PhD, will be present on light and human health, along Fred W. Turek, PhD who is a sleep researcher, and Annette Price of the Chicago Audubon Society.

Meet & greet will begin at 6:30 with complementary pizza. Meeting begins at 7:00pm

Telescopes will be set up outside after the meeting for sky viewing (feel free to bring your own, or use ours). Weather is predicted to be clear!

Dr. Kristen L. Knutson is Assistant Professor, Section of Pulmonary & Critical Care, Department of Medicine, at The University of Chicago. She is a biomedical anthropologist whose research focuses on the association between sleep and cardiometabolic health in various populations. She is particularly interested in examining the role sleep plays in disease risk as well as identifying physiologic and/or social factors that predict impaired or insufficient sleep because those at increased risk of impaired sleep will also be at increased risk of the consequences of impaired sleep. She is also interested in how sleep may mediate racial or ethnic disparities in health and disease.

Dr. Fred Turek is the Director of the Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology and the Charles & Emma Morrison Professor of Biology in the Department of Neurobiology,  at Northwestern University, and was recently awarded  the 2011 Distinguished Scientist Award by the Sleep Research Society. Presently his research interests revolve around the genetic, molecular, and neural basis for sleep and circadian rhythms. He focuses most of his attention on the role of sleep and circadian clock systems for energy balance, obesity, premature birth, gastrointestinal function, and depression specifically. Turek is currently working on two very interesting circadian research projects with NASA involving the ISS. “Humans are the only species that disobey their biological clocks on a regular basis,” says Dr. Turek, who was a member of the pioneering Northwestern research team that identified the first clock gene in mammals.

Annette Prince is the director of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors (CBCM) – www.birdmonitors.net – bird conservation project with the Chicago Audubon Society. Urban areas throughout the world fatally attract migrating birds to bright lighting. Brought down from their nightly migration – confused and disoriented by lights from towers and buildings – hundreds of thousands of birds are killed or injured as they collide with lighted structures. Chicago Audubon Society administers the Chicago Lights Out program that promotes the voluntary participation of downtown and lakefront buildings to extinguish or dim as much external lighting as possible between the hours of 11 pm and sunrise each night of the spring and fall bird migration season. The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors project recovers thousands of dead and injured birds from over 170 species that are harmed by dangerous lighting, glass and building designs during their passage through the Chicago area.

Peter Birren, Chicago Astronomical Society member and author of “Objects of the Heavens,” will offer a brief presentation of stargazing highlights of the upcoming night skies, including 2 meteor showers!



November 13, 2015
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm


Adler Planetarium
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL United States