May 16, 2018: Celebrating the International Day of Light

May 15, 2018
OSA and SPIE are both helping to celebrate the International Day of Light--May 16, 2018.

The Optical Society (OSA; Washington, DC), and SPIE (Bellingham, WA), the international society for optics and photonics, are both helping to celebrate the International Day of Light--May 16, 2018.

OSA supports the UNESCO endorsement of the International Day of Light on 16 May and is a founding member of the International Day of Light's Steering Committee. OSA will celebrate the International Day of Light with a special plenary session at CLEO, teach-ins with local sections and student chapters, and an innovative exhibition at ARTECHOUSE in Washington, DC.

RELATED ARTICLE: UNESCO declares 2015 the International Year of Light

CLEO will feature a special International Day of Light plenary session with Nobel Laureate John Mather, NASA Goddard Fellow and JWST Senior Scientist, and a live-streamed presentation of his talk "Exploring the Universe at the Speed of Light." For more information, visit CLEO is co-sponsored by The Optical Society (OSA), IEEE Photonics Society (IEEE PS) and the American Physical Society (APS).

ARTECHOUSE, Washington, DC's first innovative art space dedicated to arts and technology, is joining forces with The Optical Society (OSA), American Institute of Physics (AIP) and American Physical Society (APS) to present an innovative exhibition celebrating the first International Day of Light on 16 May. Incorporating the latest lighting and digital technology, the exhibition will feature installations from the world-renown artists. Visitors will step into an immersive world of light and explore the science behind the mediums used in the artwork.

Apply for a special 2018 International Day of Light edition of The Optics Suitcase to use for a teach-in either on 16 May 2018 or between 1 April and 30 June 2018. Examples of teach-ins are a visit to a local school for lessons in a classroom or participation in a public event with demonstrations at a booth. You can learn more about The Optics Suitcase at

The International Day of Light ( is a legacy activity of the highly successful 2015 International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL). The IYL included more than 13,000 activities that took place in 147 countries, reaching an estimated audience of more than 100 million, and raising worldwide awareness of the achievement of light science and its applications. Now, the International Day of Light (IDL) will provide an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of the central role that light plays in the lives of the citizens of the world in areas of science, culture and art, education, sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy. The recurring IDL date of May 16 marks the anniversary of the first successful operation of a laser by physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman in 1960. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is an IDL Steering Committee member and has been a leader in launching and supporting both the IYL and the IDL.

"As early supporters of both the International Year of Light in 2015 and the now-annual International Day, SPIE is proud to continue its support during this year's event," said new SPIE CEO Kent Rochford. "A critical part of the SPIE mission is to advance the science of light and light-based technologies, and draw attention to the many ways in which light improves and enhances our lives on a daily basis."

The inauguration of the IDL will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 16 May, 2018. The event will bring together international leaders to raise awareness of the many ways that light impacts modern society, and to consider how advances in light-based science and technology can aid in achieving goals in education and sustainable development. Science and industry leaders, national delegates and sponsors, diplomats and decision-makers from across the globe, science enthusiasts, and students will gather for presentations that include talks by 2017 Nobel Prize-winner for Physics, Kip S. Thorne and 1997 Physics Nobel Prize winner Claude Cohen-Tannoudji. SPIE board member Bernard Kress will offer an augmented reality/virtual reality demonstration as part of the exhibition alongside displays from the Light Painting World Alliance (LPWA), the Museum of Light, and numerous other exhibits. Artist Kari Kola has created a work of light art titled Day and Night in Paris that will cover the Fontenoy building at UNESCO Headquarters during the event. Both Rochford and outgoing SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs, who is retiring after 19 years with the organization, will participate in the inaugural event.


About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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