DSA: GLOBE at Night 2009: 16-28 March

13 March 2009

Once again, people around the world are invited to participate in a citizen-science program to monitor local light pollution. The campaign known as GLOBE at Night is part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) through the Dark Skies Awareness Cornerstone Project. IYA2009 is a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, marking the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei. IYA2009 is endorsed by the United Nations and the International Council on Science (ICSU) and initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world develop a greater appreciation of astronomy and rediscover their place in the Universe. IYA2009 events and activities will take place at global, regional, national and local levels through collaborations between professional and amateur astronomers, science centers, educators, and science communicators occurring throughout the year.

GLOBE at Night provides an opportunity for participants to go outside and observe the constellation Orion from 16-28 March 2009. Participants simply choose a clear night on which stars are visible, take measurements of stars in this portion of the sky using GLOBE Magnitude Charts, and enter observations into the GLOBE at Night Web site. Students--alongside teachers, parents and community members-- amass a data set from which they can begin to explore the concept of light pollution and to research patterns occurring across the globe.

Light pollution is now recognized as yet another human-made form of pollution similar to air, water and noise pollution that causes damage to our environment. Light pollution is defined by the International Dark-Sky Association as any adverse effect of artificial light, including sky glow, glare, light trespass, light clutter, decreased visibility at night, and energy waste. Unobtrusive artificial lighting directed downward that sensibly illuminates roads and property is considered necessary and useful lighting, but excessive lighting or lighting that leaks sideway or upwards is wasted lighting and constitutes light pollution.

Light pollution takes a toll on our environment. It is wasteful, requiring energy often generated from non-renewable sources such as oil and coal. It affects wildlife, such as sea turtles, who bury their eggs in sandy beaches at night and then return to the sea guided by the sight of shimmering seas reflecting moonlight, which nature intended to be the brightest light on any given night. Artificial light confuses them, luring them away from the ocean and subjecting them to the dangers of roads and predators. Light pollution has been shown to affect the mating, migration and predation behaviors of many different species. Light pollution obscures the night sky for astronomical observations, disrupts ecosystems and can have adverse health effects. Light pollution has a less measurable, but equally important, consequence: the great loss to the human experience when we cannot gaze up into a night sky full of stars.

GLOBE at Night helps students become aware of Earth as a system while observing the atmosphere and learning that what we do on earth affects the skies above. Participation in GLOBE at Night is open to anyone who lives or works in one of the 110 GLOBE countries and can get outside and look skyward during 16-28 March. You can enter your observations on the GLOBE at Night Report web page from 16 March - 7 April. If you are not located in a GLOBE Country, please contact the GLOBE Regional Desk Officer for your region to learn more about how a country can join. Participation does not require any special training or instruction. The GLOBE at Night Web site will provide all the information needed to participate, including instruction guides for teachers, students, and parents. There is no cost to participate in GLOBE at Night.

Please share information about GLOBE at Night with anyone who might be interested. Color postcards and one-page flyers are available on the Web site for you to distribute. In 2008, citizen scientists from around the world submitted nearly 7000 observations. Help us top that in 2009!

GLOBE and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) would like to acknowledge: NASA, NSF, and the U.S. Department of State for their financial and in-kind support of GLOBE at Night activities as well as UCAR Education and Outreach and Windows to the Universe for their help in developing the GLOBE at Night Web site and learning activities, ESRI for their support of GLOBE at Night data collection and visualization, and CADIAS, IDA and UNESCO for their help in promoting GLOBE at Night around the world.

Also, on the last night of GLOBE at Night, March 28, 2009, Earth Hour will take place between 8:30 and 9:30pm. Earth Hour is a wave of darkness that encompasses the Earth at that time. Nearly 1000 cities from over 80 countries will participate by turning out lights. On 2-5 April 2009, continue participating in IYA2009 through the four-day event 11 Hours of Astronomy! One of the key goals of 100 Hours of Astronomy is to have as many people as possible look through a telescope as Galileo did for the first time 400 years ago. You can purchase your own GalileoscopeTM as well! The GalileoscopeTM is a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators. No matter where you live, with this easy-to-assemble, 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor, you can see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons circling Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn's rings, and countless stars invisible to the unaided eye. Check the IYA2009 Web site for on-going star gazing activities!


Organisational Associates:

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