GLOBE at Night wants you to participate in a global campaign to observe and record visible stars to help researchers measure light pollution. “2008 marked a monumental shift in human history when the number of people living in cities exceeded half the people on Earth. Because of the ambient light of urban landscapes, many city dwellers have never seen a sky full of stars.” (Including this urbanite!) 2008’s program inspired 6,838 measurements of night-sky brightness by citizen scientists around the world.
“While we have just begun to analyze the data, we have strong anecdotal evidence from our citizen-scientist network in North America that they experienced abnormally cloudy skies this year,” says Connie Walker, GLOBE at Night project manager at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, AZ.
GLOBE at Night takes approximately 15-30 minutes. Do it as a family or get a bunch of friends together and do some real star-gazing! Start by finding Orion an hour after sunset between March 16-28th and follow the four, simple steps described on Globe’s site.
Orion, the Great Hunter, looks like this (left). “Look for three bright stars close together in an almost-straight line. These three stars represent Orion’s belt. The two bright stars to the north are his shoulders and the two to the south are his feet.”
No prior experience is necessary and all the information you need to participate is on the site including activity kits for families, teachers and students. All observations will be available online via Google Earth.
On a related note, Science Cheerleader subscriber Phil Hoffman sent in this news tip: The Galileoscope is a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators. No matter where you live, with this easy-to-assemble refractor, citizen scientists can see the celestial wonders that Galileo first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today, including lunar craters, the phases of Venus, the moons of Jupiter, and Saturn’s rings!
Globe at Night
> Topics Astronomy & Space, Climate & Weather, Ecology & Environment, Nature & Outdoor
> Location Close to home, Outdoors
> Duration 15-30 minutes
> Cost Free
> Gear Just a computer to log in your observations
> Level of Difficulty Easy