GLOBE at Night Ready for IYA2009

27 February 2009

The fourth edition of the international star-counting program GLOBE at Night is poised for wider participation than ever from March 16-28, as a key activity in the Dark Skies Awareness cornerstone effort of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009).

Both the "classic" GLOBE at Night citizen-science exercise that anyone can have fun doing by looking at the constellation Orion using their unaided eyes, and a digital effort to obtain precise measurements of urban dark skies using digital sky-quality meters, are being supported again this year.

The GLOBE at Night 2009 program is designed to aid teaching about the impact of artificial lighting on local environments, and the ongoing loss of a dark night sky as a natural resource for much of the world's population.

"We have now passed the point where more than half of the world's population lives in urban areas, which are notorious for being excessively lit or badly lit by artificial lights," said Dr. Connie Walker, senior science education specialist at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.  "GLOBE at Night is an easy way for people around the world to connect with the increasingly accepted and powerful idea that good lighting saves money, it reduces greenhouse gases by lowering our use of electrical power, it is better for public safety, and it allows everyone to share the wonders of the night sky."

The past three years of GLOBE at Night have drawn more than 20,000 measurements of the night sky from people in more than 100 countries, and from 49 U.S. states.  For more information, and to learn how to make and report measurements, see

Several cities, such Norman, Oklahoma, Mishawaka, Indiana, Willimantic, Connecticut, and Waynesville, Ohio, are creating mini-campaigns that combine local students with public advocates and representatives from local city and county governments.  "Connecticut kids are collaborating with students in Wales, Canada and Romania on GLOBE at Night, and we have an extensive campaign planned with the schools near the observatories of north-central Chile," Walker said.

Groups that have received special training in GLOBE at Night and related activities include the "Astronomy from the Ground Up" network of small science and nature centers fostered by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and the National Science Foundation, 146 amateur astronomers that are part of the ASP-NASA Night-Sky Network, and (soon) the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

"International organizing efforts for GLOBE at Night have been strong in countries like Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom, to name a few," Walker said.

Upcoming chances to learn more about GLOBE at Night include the March 6 episode of the IYA2009 "365 Days of Astronomy" podcast and oral sessions at the upcoming meeting of the National Science Teachers Association in New Orleans, March 19-20.

Many cities, such as Tucson, Arizona, are combining efforts on GLOBE at Night with involvement in the World Wildlife Fund's EarthHour event (, which encourages everyone to turn out their lights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time on the evening of Saturday, March 28, the final night of GLOBE at Night 2009.

"We also encourage everyone to participate in the star-counting activity being carried out under the banner of IYA2009 in October, called ‘The Great World Wide Star Count.' Another star-hunting program called ‘How Many Stars' is available the rest of the year," Walker added.

Looking toward 2010, GLOBE at Night is expected to be adopted as a core activity of the Girl Scouts of America, according to Walker.

Dark-Skies Awareness is one of 11 global cornerstone projects being supported by the

International Astronomical Union's IYA2009 efforts.  For more information on a variety of programs including the 3 star-hunting programs, a planetarium show, a presence in Second Life, and joint programs with U.S. national parks, amateur astronomers and some of the greatest environmental photographers in the world, see


Organisational Associates:

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is endorsed by the United Nations and the International Council of Science.