What I want to do
The topic of balloon mapping at night has come up a couple of times recently. Andy Shears and his students at Mansfield University did some really beautiful work taking pictures of MU's first nighttime football game in over a century in September. However, that seems to be the only nighttime mapping using Public Lab tools that anyone seems to know of and it seems like it would be an exceptionally useful tool for mapping light pollution.
I've got a balloon mapping outing planned for the end of the month that presents the opportunity to tryout nighttime mapping. So, I'm working out what I would need to do this safely. (I'm sure someone will promptly explain to me the legal reasons why I shouldn't do this at all...)
My attempt and results
My plan is to toss a package of LED balloon lights into the balloon when it's being filled. I'm also going to light the line by attaching glow sticks to it every 50ft or so. I'm planning to use my faux-FABA rig to carry the camera because it will block the camera from the lights in the balloon. I'm not really sure that's a necessary step, but I figure it couldn't hurt. Additionally, I'm not planning on flying more than 400ft up. Other than that, everything will be standard balloon mapping protocols.
Questions and next steps
The questions I have about doing this are:
1) Is this legal/ how do I do this legally?
2) How difficult is it going to be to stitch mostly black photos?
3) Will the camera be able to capture decent pictures of ambient lighting? The football field worked well for Andy, but those were some pretty strong lights.
4) Provided the pictures turn out, how do I quantify the light pollution? Do I even need to?
If this works, I'm thinking of making a nighttime map of the University of Kentucky campus. There's been a lot of work done on campus safety recently and it would be interesting to see the overlap of the new security measures and nighttime lighting.