SQM Handheld Program - 30-Day Loaner
The Missouri Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association (“IDA Missouri”), in partnership with Truman State University located in Kirksville, Missouri, is launching a new program that allows handheld Sky Quality Meters ("SQMs") to be borrowed for 30 days from public institutions located in the state of Missouri. The handheld devices measure sky brightness in seconds. Borrowers are encouraged to post the measurements to a global map located at www.myskyatnight.com/. The measurements can be posted in minutes using simple website tools or mobile apps. Once posted the data is available to scientists and the general public for analyzing light pollution trends.
The program will launch in September 2019 with three handheld Sky Quality Meters manufactured by Unihedron with the purchase of more units planned. Each SQM costs between $100.00 - $150.00 depending upon the supplier. Funding for purchase of the SQMs is provided by the NASA-Missouri Space Grant Consortium.
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
The SQM-L is very simple to use. There must be no direct illumination or shading of the sensor by a terrestrial light source if the reading is to be meaningful.
Point the lens towards the zenith (upwards). Press the Start button once and release. Under urban skies, a reading will be displayed almost immediately. Under the very darkest conditions (no moon in the sky, far from civilization) the meter may take up to a minute to complete its measurement. The SQM-L's reading is indicative of the sky brightness within its field of view.
How to Borrow a Handheld Sky Quality Meter
To request to borrow a handheld SQM for 30 days, please click the "Click here to apply" link provided below. 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 are based upon availability of devices for checkout and approval by the project team.