Globe at Night 2014

Globe at Night 2014
Image: Image of Hercules constellation courtesy of Sadalsuud, via Wikimedia Common

The Globe at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations from a computer or smart phone. Light pollution threatens not only the ability to see stars in the night sky, it can also affect energy consumption, wildlife and health.
Light pollution—excessive, misdirected, or obtrusive artificial (usually outdoor)—light has consequences: it washes out starlight in the night sky, interferes with astronomical research, disrupts ecosystems, has adverse health effects and wastes energy.
Nearly 100,000 measurements have been contributed from people in 115 countries during the campaigns each winter/spring over the past 8 years. Citizen scientists can explore this data on the site’s interactive data map, or see how their city did using the regional map generator. The database is usable for comparisons with a variety of other databases, like how light pollution affects the foraging habits of bats.
Globe at Night is a program of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the national center for ground-based nighttime astronomy in the United States, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

Project Details

  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Visit the Globe at Night Web site and click on a link that tells you which constellation to look for (depending on time of year and your location). Use the Globe at Night website to find the latitude and longitude of the location where you are making your observation. Go outside more than an hour after sunset (8-10 pm local time). The Moon should not be up. Let your eyes become used to the dark for 10 minutes before your first observation. Match your observation to one of 7 magnitude charts and note the amount of cloud cover. Report the date, time, location (latitude/longitude), the chart you chose, and the amount of cloud cover at the time of observation.

See more projects in FreeObservationAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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