Archive for the ‘stars’ tag

Join the international star hunt!

By January 3rd, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Comment

Less of our light for more star light!
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.

Guest post by Dr. Constance E. Walker, director of GLOBE at Night

It’s Time to Count the Stars

By October 15th, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Comment

Each purple mark is where someone has taken a look at the stars overhead and reported the data to Star Count.

Each purple mark is where someone has taken a look at the stars overhead and reported the data to Star Count.

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!

Be a star: join the international star-hunt!

By February 21st, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Comments (3)

Globe at Night: February 21 - March 6, 2011

Globe at Night: Feb 21 - March 6, 2011

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!

Read the rest of this entry »

Look and listen to the cosmos to help space scientists

By November 10th, 2010 at 11:14 am | Comment

M72: A globular cluster of stars.  Photo: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HPOW

M72: A globular cluster of stars. Photo: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HPOW

For those of you sleepless people who want to learn a bit about stars and help scientists at the same time, consider joining the Great World Wide Star Count taking place from October 29 through November 12, 2010.

In order to participate, download the star count’s activity guide to determine which constellation you should observe. Once you know what to look for, check out the sky an hour after sunset (7 to 9 pm) and find your constellation. Next, match what you see to the set of magnitude charts (included in the activity guide), and report your observations. You can also look online to see results from previous years of international stargazing.

Once you’re hooked on astronomy, consider joining up with NASA’s Interactive Space Physics (INSPIRE) project to record very low frequency radio emissions. For this project, you’ll need to build your own detector with kits from the website. Some of the radio waves you’ll measure come from naturally occurring sources and are called “sferics” (short for “atmospherics”). These natural waves are often generated by lightning and are also called “tweeks,” “whistlers,” and “chorus.” Are you wondering what lightning sounds like? If you don’t yet have a kit, listen to some sferics here. (Want to hear more? Check out their audio gallery.)

In addition to listening in on nature’s noises, your kit will allow you to monitor human-made radio emissions in the same frequencies. This research helps scientists learn more about how naturally occurring very low frequency radio emissions are generated, as well as how our human-made signals interact with the ionosphere and magnetic fields. This is a unique opportunity to collect data and work with real NASA space scientists on important scientific problems.

If you’re, ahem, inspired, to hear more, check out a recent segment about this program on NASA/Discovery radio.

The Inspire Project Audio Clip

Get outside and take a look up, or listen in!