Archive for the ‘astronomy’ tag
Guest post by Dr. Constance E. Walker, director of GLOBE at Night
What would it be like without stars at night? What is it we lose?
Starry night skies have given us poetry, art, music and the wonder to explore. A bright night sky (aka “light pollution”) affects energy consumption, health and wildlife too.
Spend a few minutes to help scientists by measuring the brightness of your night sky. Join the GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaign! The first campaign starts January 3 and runs through January 12.
GLOBE at Night is a worldwide, hands-on science and education program to encourage citizen-scientists worldwide to record the brightness of their night sky. During five select sets of dates in 2013, children and adults match the appearance of a constellation (Orion or Leo in the northern hemisphere, and Orion and Crux in the southern hemisphere) with seven star charts of progressively fainter stars. Participants then submit their choice of star chart with their date, time and location. This can be done by computer (after the measurement) or by smart phone or pad (during the measurement). From these data an interactive map of all worldwide observations is created.
Over the past 7 years of 10-day campaigns, people in 115 countries have contributed over 83,000 measurements, making GLOBE at Night the most successful, light pollution citizen-science campaign to date. The GLOBE at Night website is easy to use, comprehensive, and holds an abundance of background information. Guides, activities, one-page flyers and postcards advertising the campaign are available. Through GLOBE at Night, students, teachers, parents and community members are amassing a data set from which they can explore the nature of light pollution locally and across the globe.
There are 5 GLOBE at Night campaigns in 2013:
January 3 – 12
January 31 – February 9
March 3 – 12
March 31 – April 9
April 29 – May 8
Make a difference and join the GLOBE at Night campaign.
Wow! Take a look at the map on the Great World Wide Star Count website. The fall campaign started yesterday and already there are oodles of citizen scientists from around the world posting their data. Citizen scientists from China, Australia, India, Kuwait, Egypt, South Africa, the European Union, Canada, United States, and Mexico have gotten involved so far. They are all looking at how bright the stars are overhead to help us get a better understanding of how streetlights, porch lights, car headlights and other nighttime lights affect how we see the stars in the sky.
Because different stars are visible in different parts of the planet, people north of the equator, in the Northern Hemisphere, are looking for different stars than people south of the equator in the Southern Hemisphere. Citizen scientists that are participating in the Great World Wide Star Count in the Northern Hemisphere are looking at the brightness of stars in the constellation Cygnus. Citizen scientists in the Southern Hemisphere are looking at the brightness of stars in the constellation Sagittarius.
To join the worldwide star gazing effort, print the magnitude chart from Star Count. Then, an hour after sunset sometimes between October 14 and 28, 2011, go outside and find the constellation Cygnus or Sagittarius in the sky. (If you’d like to plan ahead yet are not sure what time the sun sets, you can figure it out with a sunset calculator.)
How bright are those stars? Can you see them clearly or are they hard to see? Compare the way the constellation looks in the sky with the magnitude charts. Record the magnitude of the stars according to the directions in the activity guide and you are ready to report your findings at the Star Count website.
After reporting the magnitude of the stars you saw, take a look at the results pouring into the Star Count map. In the five years that the project has been going on, tens of thousands of people have participated from about 90 countries around the world. You might notice on the map that the same stars appear brighter in some areas of than they do in others. The stars are the same, but they are being seen from places that have different amounts of light pollution – lights from buildings, roads and parking lots that make it difficult to see the stars of the night sky.
Great World Wide Star Count
Days: October 14-28, 2011
Time: An hour after sunset
Enjoy to stars!
Have you ever seen the Milky Way from where you live? Most of us have not, and it’s largely due to increased light pollution from outdoor lighting. Light pollution not only wastes billions of dollars a year in energy and money but it causes human sleep disorders and disrupts habits critical to ecology.
Globe at Night is an international star-hunting campaign that needs volunteers to record their observations of particular constellations in order to measure light pollution. This year’s campaign runs from February 21 through March 6, 2011.
Last year, citizen scientists contributed 17,800 observations and raised awareness about the issue all over the world. The project takes just a few minutes of your time to measure sky brightness and contribute those observations online. Those of you that are tech-savvy can contribute in real-time via the Globe at Night web app. Out of this world!
Contributing to Globe at Night is as easy as pie:
1. Find your latitude and longitude.
2. Find Orion by going outside an hour after sunset (about 7-10pm local time).
3. Match your nighttime sky to one of the project’s magnitude charts.
4. Report your observation.
5. Compare your observation to thousands around the world.
Be a star! Join Globe at night!
Whether tackling the mysteries of the universe or studying birds in the backyard, citizen science projects rely on collaboration between scientists, volunteers, teachers, students, and many other dedicated participants.
One great example from our Project Finder is the Global Telescope Network, an informal association of amateur astronomers who partner with scientists to conduct cutting-edge astronomy research. Using small telescopes around the world, Global Telescope Network members observe and analyze astronomical objects related to several NASA missions. Members participate in a variety of activities, including gamma-ray burst photometry analysis, surveillance data analysis, and galaxy monitoring, and by donating telescope time.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Dr. Kevin McLin, director of the Global Telescope Network at Sonoma State University, a few questions about the network, its members’ contributions, and what excites him about the field of astronomy.
Dr. McLin, who makes up the Global Telescope Network?
It’s a fairly far-ranging and diverse group of people. We have some university observatories that are members, and we have amateur astronomers who have their own backyard observatories. In addition, we have high school observatories. It’s a mix of professional, amateurs, and educators.
Can you describe how a member of the Global Telescope Network accesses, controls, and gets images from the robotic GORT telescope?
We share time over the Skynet system headed by Dan Reichart at University of North Carolina. We use the Skynet interface to give access to our student members who do not have their own observatories. These are both high school and undergraduates, typically. The Skynet system allows the students to submit jobs to a queue, and then to retrieve their images when the jobs are complete. They don’t have to stay up all night with the telescope this way either, which can be an important part of a project for a high school student.