Dear Supporters of the International Day of Light
Now in its fourth year, the UNESCO International Day of Light is one of the most anticipated science events on the global calendar of United Nations observances. Since its inception in 2018, over 1200 activities and events of all kind have taken place in more than 80 countries, and even aboard the International Space Station!

As you will see from looking at our
global events calendar, events all over world are being organized, and we can look forward to some fantastic celebrations in 2021. Yet we cannot forget the circumstances of the COVID pandemic that continue to be challenging. The events of the last 14 months have highlighted just how important light-based technology is to society, and how it has helped mitigate and solve many of the problems we have faced. For example, the internet and video-conferencing have enabled continuity in industry and education during lockdowns, and the science of light has been key to developing concrete responses in areas such as research and diagnostics. Add your event to the growing list of IDL activities worldwide here.

And significantly, we have come to appreciate the importance of facts supported by science, and we have been reminded how much we rely on professionals — in fields from healthcare to engineering — to find evidence-based solutions to society’s challenges. But we have also seen how the seemingly-obvious message that we should trust the advice of scientists can become politicized, with real and tragic consequences. As a result, a key action of the International Day of Light in 2021 is a dedicated campaign to promote societal awareness of the need to “Trust Science.” Supported by Nobel Laureates, science and industry leaders, and educators worldwide, the campaign aims to reach out to the general public and to invite them to make a simple yet very important declaration of confidence in the scientific process. The pledge takes less than a minute and can be easily completed online at If you have not already done so, we urge you to go online and add your support. 
The International Day of Light on May 16 is only the start of the Trust Science campaign, and this message will be a focal point of many other activities throughout 2021. Our hope is that the International Day of Light community will help this important message reach a truly global audience. 
It is more important than ever for us to communicate the message that science is vital for the future of society, and so no matter how you are making plans in the coming weeks to celebrate the International Day of Light, please keep this in mind! And as always, please regularly check out the IDL Social Media accounts on Twitter (@, Facebook (@International Day of Light 16 May) and Instagram (@DayOfLight2021), as we will be pointing out and highlighting new events as they come on-stream. And please use the hashtags for 2021: #LightDay2021 and #TrustScience.
John Dudley and Joe Niemela
International Day of Light 2021
Steering Committee Chairs

Sign the Trust Science Pledge

We encourage everyone to visit and share to sign the pledge and learn more. 

After you’ve signed, we hope that you will share the message to trust science with your friends, family and colleagues as well as on social media via  FacebookInstagram, and Twitter using #TrustScience and #LightDay2021.

To date, the pledge has seen enthusiastic support worldwide with founding signatories including Nobel laureates, UNESCO L’Oréal For Women in Science prize winners, Presidents and CEOs of major scientific bodies, as well as scientists and students from more than 25 different countries. The pledge is now being shared widely to invite all interested individuals to take part.

The Trust Science pledge states: “Trust in evidence-based, scientific facts is essential for providing sustainable solutions to today’s challenges. By adding my name to this declaration and pledge, I recognize the key role that scientific research and discovery plays in improving quality of life for all.”

We have uploaded some useful visuals for you to use on social media in this folder, which you are welcome to use. 

contact us if you have any questions.

The Dark and Quiet Skies Project

One of the fundamental IDL goals is to raise awareness that technologies and design can play an important role in the achievement of greater energy efficiency, in particular by limiting energy waste, and in the reduction of light pollution, which is key to the preservation of dark skies.
One of the IDL endorsing organisations, the International Astronomical Union’s Office for Astronomy Outreach (IAU OAO), is working with us to raise awareness of dark and quiet skies. Through the Dark and Quiet Skies project, people can learn about the importance of dark skies for human culture, heritage, and health as well as the use of dark and quiet skies for astronomy research. The IAU OAO conducts this project in collaboration with the IAU Commission B7 and various partners.
More information regarding programmes and resources endorsed or created by the IAU OAO to raise awareness on dark and quiet skies can be found
here. Learn how you can host an IAU-member astronomer and other light-related professionals for a talk during IDL here.

Activities Planned for IDL2021

Below we've highlighted a variety of planned events worldwide for the upcoming Day of Light celebrations around 16 May. We invite you to register your light-related events (including those taking place any time in 2021 as well as remote and virtual activities) to be added to the IDL global event calendar
Dr Penny Hatziefstratiou Michelinaki is organizing three events aimed for children to promote education. Two of the events introduce light and lighting to children through storytelling. Penny will narrate her children’s book “Lucian’s first dream a journey to light” in English and in Greek. The Greek book has been included in the shortlists of the Greek IBBY, making it one of the best children’s books for 2020. The third event is a drawing competition for children aged 4-12, which invites them to illustrate “The light in my life”. A committee will select the winner and the drawings will be used to create a virtual exhibition. 
On May 16 NTU "KhPI" will host the grandiose festival of science "Light is Fun!", which is conducted by the IDL Ukrainian National Node Kseniia Minakova. Young scientists, teachers and students annually conduct more than thirty laboratory and experimental zones, master-classes, and popular science lectures, prize drawings and thematic contests, and more. The festival will bring together school children and college students from Kharkiv and Kharkiv region, as well as the public. Participants will learn what role light plays in physics, chemistry, robotics, electronics, ecology, energy, photonics and more.
The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance (ADSA) are also pleased to present the ‘Your Light Rights’ webinar, taking place on May 12. In a world that is increasingly using light at night to advertise, inform and simply compete for attention, the impacts on light pollution and the wider public are often ignored. The question is therefore posed: What can you do to minimise obtrusive lighting? Presented by two highly experienced lighting designers and IALD members, David Bird and Jackson Stigwood, the webinar will cover many of the tough questions we receive at ADSA on a daily basis: Are there standard for obtrusive outdoor lighting? If there is a streetlight outside your house causing nuisance, is there anything you can do? Followed by a Q&A session, this is a unique opportunity to understand how to elicit real change in the outdoor lighting in your area. You can learn more about the event here.
Nanofabrication Photonics Online Meetup (nanofabPOM) of Belgium will explore the advances in the fabrication of photonic devices at the micro- and nanoscale in a dedicated online event from 16-18 May. The conference aims to support the nanofabrication community and to facilitate the exchange of practical experience and know-how. Renowned speakers from all over the world will share their hands-on experience, challenges and ways to overcome them. The conference will also feature a career development panel discussion and an opportunity to virtually socialize with fellow photonics experts. Finally, there will be an interactive poster session and an image contest, sponsored by the conference partners GenISys GmbH and NanoFab-Net, and Heidelberg Instruments will donate 10 Eur for each active participant to the WWF.

During May 14-16, 2021 the LIGHT WINDOWS event invites everyone to create installations that light up your windows to celebrate creativity and connection. LIGHT WINDOWS began in May 2020 during the pandemic. Over 90 projects across 18 countries (including Antarctica) connected isolated artists and closed venues into public space. You can also find artworks in your area or explore the LIGHT WINDOWS map online. The image above showcases Installations for LIGHT WINDOWS 2020 in New York City artists from (Left to Right): Raisa Nosova, Barak Chamo, Studio Atomic and Kazue Taguchi.

Celebrating our Light Alumni

Since we first began planning the International Year of Light over 10 years ago in 2009, thousands of volunteers have helped us organize events and reach out around the world.  Leading up to the International Day of Light in 2021, we will be profiling some of these wonderful and committed volunteers so that their activities, careers, and inspiring stories can be appreciated by the wider International Day of Light Community.  
Bethany Downer (Canada)
Bethany Downer works in science communications and public outreach, primarily for the space industry. She is the Chief Communications Officer of the Hubble Space Telescope for the European Space Agency and the Director of Communications for STAR HARBOR Space Academy, the world’s first publicly accessible spaceflight training facility and cutting-edge research and development campus for emerging space technologies. Bethany has also been coordinating the communications efforts for the International Day of Light since 2018. She has twice been named one of Canada’s Top 30 Under 30, is a recipient of Canada’s Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal, and is the youngest recipient of Memorial University’s Horizon Alumni Award. Bethany also intends to complete her first suborbital private spaceflight within the next decade. She can be reached on social media at @BethanyAstro on Twitter, @BethanyDowner on LinkedIn, and @BethanyDowner on Instagram.
I’ve found a passion for bringing science and technology to the general public. I believe that being inspired and excited by niche or specialized fields starts with strong awareness and comprehension – that's where I come in!
I became involved with the International Day of Light as part of the IDL Secretariat in the fall of 2018 through the Astronomy and Society Department of Leiden University, starting with preparations for the 2019 IDL celebrations. I was immediately impressed and inspired by the enthusiasm of the community, including the national node network and the various Day of Light sponsors and partners, who collectively bring awareness to the importance and role of light in our daily lives. I was drawn to the fact that this global community engaged the public worldwide around a common day – although celebrations are visibly taking place year-round to celebrate light in many ways – and the strong participation and impact that the Day of Light can have.
As my experience and research with light science and technologies up to this point had largely been through astronomy and space science, I was “en-light-ened” to learn more about different applications of light technology and the science of optics in various fields. I’m also glad that the Day of Light is “shedding light” on the harmful effects of light pollution and how this can negatively impact our access to viewing and researching the cosmos.
I am proud to be a member of the science communication community. Our goal is to establish a bridge of communication and understanding between the results and achievements of the scientists and innovators with the general public so that these developments can be shared and celebrated by broader audiences. The International Day of Light is a fantastic means of connecting these two groups and it also helps remind us of just how reliant we are on light-based technologies and the need to implement sustainable technologies. I feel very fortunate to be part of such an impactful worldwide initiative. Global celebrations such as this help bring us together and to bring awareness to important achievements and issues. I’m delighted to be part of the IDL Secretariat and I’m looking forward to the upcoming #LightDay2021 celebrations! I encourage everyone to sign the #TrustScience pledge.
Zahid Husain Khan (India)
Zahid Husain Khan is currently associated with Vigyan Prasar – an autonomous organization of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, as a member of the Vigyan Bhasha Urdu Core Committee – engaged in science communication. He is also a member of the Governing Board of Zaheer Science Foundation, working on science policy and innovation. Dr Khan had been a Full Professor of Physics in Jamia Millia Islamia - a Central University in New Delhi. He obtained his Masters’ and Doctoral degrees from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India. He has wide interest in optics, molecular spectroscopy, laser physics, Materials science, information communication technology, and science communication. Dr Khan had been a DAAD Fellow at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, and Free University Berlin, and also a Visiting Scientist in the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. He had been an elected Vice-President (2016 – 2020) of the Ibn al Haytham LHiSA International Society, Paris. 

My journey with “Light” began in childhood. Born in the village of Akrahra in Uttar Pradesh, I had the wonderful experience of living close to nature. The lush fields of rice, wheat and sugarcane, and the yellow mustard around my village were mesmerizing. The mango orchard, with the shadow of the tree-stems and leaves, and the sunlight that filtered through to the ground yielded spectacular visual effects. During the monsoon season, the clear air after the rains revealed the spectacular shining layers of the Himalayas, further revealing to me the visual beauty that was all around if only one would look. In those days there was no electricity and the only means of lighting was through lanterns. During summer, we slept out in the open, which offered us an opportunity to see the dark sky lit with thousands of stars and other celestial objects. Perhaps, my interest in Science was triggered from such observations.
Yet another reason for my fascination with Science started during grade 5 in my village school. The curriculum comprised of a book called “First Book of Science” but the teacher had the only copy, and so we were required to take our own notes. I carved my own pens from a local plant and I copied the entire book with colourful illustration, after which I hard-bound it using local materials. The book began with the theme, “What is Science?” which gave a beautiful description of Nature, from the scarlet sky at dawn to the twilight at dusk, among other elements of light and colour.
After High School, I decided to study science more completely, and completed my Masters at the Aligarh Muslim University in India. My research topics was spectroscopy and its applications, and this ultimately led to a PhD. During my extensive tenure in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi as a faculty member, in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, we introduced courses in optics and spectroscopy, laser physics and laser spectroscopy.
My first experience in Science communication was in the early 1990s, when a producer from the Mass Communication Research Centre of our university approached me to prepare a script for an audio-visual programme that was a part of a national classroom project. At that point, I selected the topic ‘Photoelectric Effect’ and leveraged its principles to develop a comprehensive three-episode programme with live demonstrations. I also developed presentations on the “Mysteries and Wonders of Light,” that I delivered in many universities in India and overseas.
In October 2014, the Secretariat of International Year of Light 2015 welcomed me as one of the National Focal Points for India, and I was delighted to attend the Opening Ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters. In my role as the National Focal Point for India, I had the valuable opportunity to collaborate with many educational institutions, NGOs and government agencies to organize events throughout 2015. I also participated in the Ibn al-Haytham Working Group, and attended the ‘Islamic Golden Age of Science for the Knowledge-Based Society’ Conference in September 2015 at UNESCO Headquarters.  In October 2015, on the invitation of the German Physical Society, I participated in a focus group discussion on sharing best practices pertaining to outreach events and initiatives in member countries, including Germany, UK, New Zealand and India, which was a very useful experience looking forward.
With the proclamation of 16th May as the International Day of Light (IDL), I continue to encourage educational institutions as well as individuals to organise events showcasing the impact of light in sustainable development, especially in the fields of education, healthcare, energy, and social service.
Monika Raharti (Indonesia)
Monika Raharti is director of the Center for Young Scientists Indonesia. After completing her bachelor’s in Physics in the Institut Teknologi Bandung, she worked in the Physics Department, Parahyangan Catholic University in Bandung City, Indonesia. She continued her studies in the Institut Teknologi Bandung and completed her master’s in Physics in 1997 majoring in non-linear optics. She has been at Surya University in Jakarta, Indonesia since 2012. In 2021 she completed a PhD in Technical and Vocational Education from Sultan Idris University Malaysia.  Her concerns on Physics Education brought her to work with science teachers and she is actively promoting research in science to students and teachers in secondary schools, as well as developing the system of certification of research teachers and research schools in Indonesia. Currently she serves as President of the Asia Pacific Conference of Young Scientists, and council member of the Indonesian Physical Society.

My involvement with optics outreach and education dates back to the very beginning of my career, as I have always felt passionate about teaching the next generation so that they have improved opportunities for their careers and lives, and sharing my personal enthusiasm for science.  I have had the opportunity to work in a wide range of contexts in Indonesia in several different universities, and I have also initiated a number of programme to mentor teachers at all levels, and to work with younger scientists and students.  

My first experience of working with UNESCO was through its programme of educational workshops, multi-day events where we promote different strategies of Active Learning in Optics in Photonics (ALOP). The ALOP workshops are extremely valuable as they are based on the philosophy of “teaching teachers,” providing resources, new ideas, and mentoring for educators so that they can both develop professionally themselves, and also pass on new skills to their students. ALOP workshops provide participants with an introductory update in the fields of optics and photonics, and strategies for teaching that are active and that have been demonstrated to be more effective than traditional methods.

Through my contacts at UNESCO and at ICTP (the International Centre for Theoretical Physics)  I learned about the International Year of Light in 2015, and I was delighted to act as the national node contact for Indonesia. We organized events throughout 2015, including Lectures, workshops, seminars, conference, observations, demonstrations, and competitions, and reached a broad audience of scientists, teachers, and students.  I have continued my involvement with the International Day of Light team since 2018, and we regularly organize similar events, and look forward every year to interacting with and reaching new groups of students and members of the public. An area of particular focus for us currently is improving gender equality for scientists and teachers in Indonesia, and we have been working both on gathering data to inform government ministry decisions and planning, as well as to develop working group and programmes to enhance the awareness of researchers.


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International Day of Light Secretariat · Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics ICTP · Str. Costiera 11 · Trieste, TS 34151 · Italy

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