Celebrating the International Day of Light 2020

Annual IDL celebrations will take place online
01 May 2020
By Alison Walker
First, Second, and Technology Prize winners from 2019 SPIE IDL Photo Competition
First, Second, and Technology Prize winners from 2019 SPIE IDL Photo Competition

On 16 May this year, communities, individuals, and organizations alike will celebrate light and light-based technologies during the third observation of the International Day of Light (IDL).

IDL is a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy.

The International Day of Light recognizes the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman. This year marks the 60th anniversary of that event, adding greater significance to this year's IDL celebrations.

And while in-person gatherings will no longer happen as scheduled due to the outbreak of COVID-19, events throughout 2020 can still take place with official recognition as an IDL2020 activity. The official IDL website offers a list of these events and includes all updated details such as dates and locations. Visit lightday.org/events for more information.

There are also many options for observing IDL virtually on the designated day. Organizations can consider online gatherings, and share videos, lessons, and educational materials with their communities to teach the science of light. Individuals can raise awareness of the event by posting images of light in action and sharing links to IDL resources. Find videos and images to share created as part of a joint effort by SPIE, IEEE Photonics Society, and OSA called "See the Light" to help connect IDL celebrations: lightday.org/seethelight.

SPIE also offers many such resources to help build your virtual online celebration, including a variety of lesson plans that can be used in your virtual classroom, factsheets and a PowerPoint presentation on IDL, educational posters in PDF format, and social media graphics to show your support and enthusiasm for IDL 2020 across multiple social media platforms. Find these resources on the SPIE website at spie.org/idlresources.

SPIE will celebrate on 16 May by launching our annual SPIE International Day of Light Photo Contest. The contest is held to raise awareness about IDL and the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in daily life. In 2019, photographers from Russia, the United States, and Spain were named winners of the contest, from more than 1,000 entries depicting the world-of-light theme. See winning photos above.

• First Prize (US $2,500) was awarded to Alexey Trofimov of Siberia, Russia, for his image ‘Baikal Treasures.'
• Second Prize (US $1,000) was awarded to Kyle Russell Allen Graves of Lubbock, Texas, for his image ‘Backlit Tornadic Supercell.'
• Third Prize (not pictured, US $500) was awarded to Julio Castro Pardo of La Coruña, Spain, for his image ‘A Dream Come True.'
• The Technology Prize (US $750) was awarded to Sergio Ruiz from Barcelona, Spain, for his image ‘ALBA Synchrotron.' The Technology and Sciences Prize was sponsored by lightsources.org

See more entries from last year's contest as well as winning images from previous contests, and learn more about contest details at spie.org/idlphoto.

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