S&T’s Star-count Challenge!

OK, so you got a rush watching last week's lunar eclipse, and now you're asking yourself, "What's the next cool skywatching event?"

The answer is: "GLOBE at Night."

East Coast at night
As seen from orbit, the nighttime view of the Northeast U.S. reveals a vast wasteland of light pollution stretching from Baltimore and Washington (lower left) to Boston (upper right). Click on the image for a larger view.
NOAA
This worldwide star-counting exercise, now in its third year, is a satisfying and worthwhile activity that you can do alone or with your family and friends. In the process, you'll be helping scientists gauge the extent of light pollution. Here's how it works:

First, determine your latitude and longitude. You can get these easily using our online almanac or from various online map sites like ACME Mapper.

Next, go outside on some clear evening during the next two weeks, look south, and determine the faintest stars you can see in Orion. (Important: make sure no nearby lights are hindering your view, and give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness.)

If you're handy with star charts, just use one you already have to determine the faintest stars you can spot in Orion. Or you can download and print out the four-page GLOBE at Night activity packet, which has simplified star maps that you can used to match what you see in the sky.

Finally, log on to the project's website to report your observations. It'll only take you about 30 minutes for the whole exercise — a small effort that will aid the fight against light pollution. You can report your observations from multiple nights or, even better, submit reports from various locations around your town or city. And if you've got one of Unihedron's Sky Quality Meters, take measurements with that too!

The 2007 effort amassed nearly 8,500 reports (nearly double the previous year's count) from 60 different countries. This year, project manager Connie Walker hopes to top 10,000 once all the eyeballing is finished.

Heck, Connie, we get tens of thousands of viewers here at SkyandTelescope.com every week!

So here's what I want you all to do: when reporting your measurements to GLOBE at Night, you'll see that the online form has two comment boxes. In the second one (Additional Comments), type in "S&T.com".

Let's overwhelm them with reports! And once everything is tabulated, I'll let you know how well we did!

One thought on “S&T’s Star-count Challenge!

  1. paul rapp

    kelly,
    sorry i didn’t tag my observation. a couple of nights ago, i checked out a possible winter observing site that i had heard about. it was much better than home and is only 1/2 hour away. when i saw the header of your article, i just found the proper coordinates and made my report. i didn’t read the entire piece until i had finished. oops. add one more to your observer count.
    clear skies,
    paul

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