Thursday, March 12, 2009

GLOBE at Night

I've learned a new expression: Citizen Science. This means that interested people do contribute to a research project, either by collecting data, or by allocating computing time of their PCs to contribute to the analysis of huge sets of raw data - SETI@Home is an example of the latter kind of Citizen Science. Sabine and I talked about this some days ago, and just then, I came across a wonderful example of the former kind of Citizen Science: GLOBE at Night.

The idea of this project is to establish a map of "light pollution", the illumination of the night sky caused by artificial light sources on the ground. Light pollution is nuisance to everyone who wants to marvel at the stars, and it can be harmful to the biology and ecology of animals in the wild.

To map the extent of light pollution over the planet, participants of GLOBE at night are just asked to look at the constellation of Orion and report what they see. Yesterday night, what I could see from the patio was something like this:

which means visibility of stars corresponding to a Magnitude 3 Chart. But then, this result may have been skewed a bit, as there was a huge natural source of light pollution - the nearly full moon. To avoid this interference by the moonlight, the actual observation period is scheduled towards the next New Moon, between March 16 and March 28.

So, we all can become "Citizen Scientists", by reporting our view of Orion to the GLOBE at night! I just hope my view will soon be better again than tonight:

Cloudy Sky.

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  1. The middle "star" in Orion's sword is interesting when photographed with near-infrared film and a yellow to orange filter.

  2. Hi Stefan,

    This is certainly a uplifting piece and theme for it demonstrates that our technologies can have greater purpose then simply having us to be amused. It also has one mindful what many of us have lost as a result of having technology unbounded at times. That is to say that many including myself cannot without travel look to the heavens to witness it with all its beauty and awe. I for one will report to the data base what I witness, which I suspect will be even less then you have. It also has me wonder, since many are denied such a view, does it not hold perhaps as being one of many reasons why so many have a distorted perception of where they stand in regards to it all?



  3. Hello Stefan,
    what about deviations of the seeing
    ability of the "citicens" from the
    "standard observer"?
    On the other hand, those wonderful pictures
    of earth at nighttime from Orbit
    show really all You need to know.

  4. i will participate to this star hunting! im getting excited :)


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