The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

The Dark Skies Crusader Rides Again!

Today’s episode of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast once again comes from NOAO and features our Dark Skies Crusader as he helps the Swanson family participate in GLOBE at Night.

I write the Dark Skies Crusader segments and try to have a little fun with them. This is a bit of a writing philosophy blog here I guess. I put them in a style of a Saturday movie serial (except done for audio only).  It’s a bit of a lost style.  Usually you have an overly dramatic narrator setting the scene at the beginning of the episode, very clearly defined good and evil, and overly earnest hero helping a squeaky clean family (there is a bit of the Tick in the Dark Skies Crusader if you have seen that show).  The Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network has elements of this genre. The writing style intentionally evokes a simpler time.

The Crusader himself is not a traditional superhero, but a regular man who tries to fight light pollution.  The intention here was to communicate that there are simple things that everyone can do to help fight light pollution with just a little knowledge.

I throw little jokes and references in the episodes that you might not catch.  I frequently use what I refer to as the Stan Lee naming convention.  Many characters have alliterative names (think Peter Parker, Dr. Doom, Fantastic Four, Bruce Banner, etc.)  In the sea turtle episode, they were going to Euphemia Haye, a real restaurant on Longboat Key in Florida. I took a dig at Vegas and Penn and Teller at the end of the episode. In the human health episode, the teacher’s little quips at the end of class were inspired by the scientist in the lab of the television series Police Squad who always told the little boy what they would learn about next time (this always had a very ’50s vibe to it). The end of this episode had a riff on the old Superman
“Truth, justice and the American Way” motif. I can’t claim credit for the Denebola joke in the current episode…that was contributed by the student who played Stan!

In addition to today’s episode, we have done stories on the effects of light pollution on wildlife and human health.  There may be one or two more episodes coming.  My colleague, Connie Walker (director of GLOBE at Night) wants to do one on energy issues associated with night time lighting.  I already have the outline sketched out in my head but haven’t fleshed it out yet. There initial idea includes homages to the Simpsons and Happy Days in that one!

I feel like I have just written the director’s commentary for the Dark Skies Crusader DVD! I hope you are enjoying them and you might catch a few reference you might have missed the first time through.


March 7, 2011 - Posted by | 365 Days of Astronomy, Dark Skies, GLOBE at Night, New Media

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