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ALAN Conference Series

ALAN 5 will take place from the 12.-14. Nov. in Snowbird, Utah, US.

Night Sky Data to the People!

A new website presents citizen science data

Touring Exhibition

Our touring exhibition with 15 posters can be borrowed for events!

'Loss of the Night' App

The 'Loss of the Night' app measures sky brightness! Take part in a world-wide citizen science project that measures star visibility and light pollution. The app is free!

City Night Time Lapse

This growing collection of time lapse videos of nights in urban centres provides insights how city lights change throughout the course of the night

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Arts and craft fun

On this page we offer you various instructions for craft projects, which you will find as PDF files at the end of the text. If you move the cursor over the PDF instructions, they will turn yellow. You can save the craft projects to your computer or print them.

Make a lantern by hand
In the past, before the invention of electric lamps, people used lanterns to see in the dark. Nowadays lanterns are only used for fun, for instance in lantern processions. In these processions people and especially kids walk the streets after dark and sing songs. Lantern processions mostly take place on St. Martin's Day. St. Martin's Day is celebrated every 11th November in memory of St. Martin. According to a legend, he gave one half of his cloak to an old ragged beggar during an extremely cold winter's night, so the beggar did not have to suffer the cold. It is also said he hid in a goose shed one night. He was supposed to be crowned as the Bishop, but Martin was too modest for that and so instead he hid. That is why people went looking for him with lanterns. Then the geese chattered so loud that he was eventually found. If you want to join the next St. Martin's Day procession with your own hand- made lantern, have a look at the instructions for a lantern.

Make woollen animals by hand – a spider
As disgusted as many people might feel about them, spiders are very useful animals. They eat loads of insects for instance. If they did not, we would have an unbelievable number of insects and not just annoying ones like midges. Harmful insects like lice could also cause serious harm to trees.

The spider is a beneficiary of artificial light, which means it profits of the bright street lights attracting insects at night. You will certainly have seen the many spider webs on lanterns in the morning. Spiders do not build the webs there because of their affection for light, but because this is where they find prey. When flying, insects actually follow the moon. Lamps can interfere with this behaviour or insects can mistake lamps for the moon. Attracted by the light, they fly right into the lamps or circle them. As a result they are easy prey for spiders, which therefore like to choose lanterns as places to make their webs. Would you like to make a woollen spider yourself? Just click the PDF instructions for a woollen spider. Of course you can also make different animals using this technique.

Let's craft a handmade space telescope
To observe the stars in the sky during a clear night, you need to be far enough from big cities and therefore far from artificial lights. Up to 3000 stars can be seen in the sky this way. This does not mean there are only 3000 stars. We just cannot see them all. The number of stars in our galaxy is estimated at 200 billion. However, there are many other galaxies. In fact, there are so many stars, that we cannot even imagine all them.

If you have never researched the stars before, you will only see bright points without any arrangement in the sky. But if you imagine a connection line between some of the brighter stars, they will turn into proper figures, so called constellations. Thousands of years ago people already used these constellations for navigation purposes and even recognised their gods in the stars.

Not all constellations can be identified at all times. Whether you are able to spot them depends on the season as well as the weather conditions at the time of observation. A star chart can be helpful to detect constellations. Using a telescope, you can zoom in on the stars and therefore see them much clearer. Unfortunately, you cannot watch the stars using our space telescope, but you can choose among different constellations, and using a source of light (a lamp for example) you can see how they would appear in the sky. This will help you get a feel for the constellations. If you would like to craft a telescope by hand, just open the instructions for a space telescope.

Make your own paper bat
Although bats have eyes through which they can see, they have to rely on their echolocation system in order to find their way in total darkness. It works by emitting sounds through the mouth or the nose. Whenever those sounds hit objects, for instance an insect, they are reflected back to the bat, which it picks up with its big ears. Depending on the sound it will know just how far away its prey or obstacle is.

Bats are nocturnal animals which sleep during the day and hunt at night. They typically stay in caves, crevices or other moist and dark hideaways. They rely on the darkness, because that is where they find shelter from their enemies. Bright street lamps therefore have an effect on bats as well. Because bats try to avoid light, they have to take indirect routes so they do not get too close to street lights. But those routes can be dangerous or places where they cannot find food. Other bats directly approach the street lights, because of the many insects to be found there. This makes it easier for their enemies to spot them, or they might crash into the lamps at fast pace which could injure them.
If you are interested in crafting a bat yourself now, just click the instructions for a bat.