By Patricia Daukantas
Once again, the folks who run the GLOBE at Night project are inviting people from all over the world to measure the brightness of the night sky – no special equipment required.
As we described last year, this project takes place during March because that’s when the prominent constellation Orion is high in the sky fairly early in the evening. (In the Northern Hemisphere autumn, one must be a night owl or a before-dawn riser to catch a glimpse of “the Hunter.”)
You don’t even have to be savvy about the apparent-magnitude system that professionals use. You don’t even need a telescope. Just carry out these five steps on a clear night between now and Tuesday, March 16:
- Find your latitude and longitude with a Global Positioning System device or online tools.
- Find Orion in the clear evening sky (simple pattern recognition).
- Match your view of the constellation to one of the magnitude charts developed by GLOBE at Night – how many stars do you see?
- Record your observation on the Web site.
- Compare what you saw to others’ views.
Your effort will help GLOBE at Night track the pervasiveness and spread of light pollution. As the organizers of this project said in a press release, “With half of the world’s population now living in cities, many urban dwellers have never experienced -- and maybe never will -- the wonderment of pristinely dark skies.” The more awareness of the problem of light pollution, the greater the chance to stop its spread.
2010-03 March, Astronomy