The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

GLOBE At Night 2011

I have blogged for several years now about the annual citizen science  light pollution measurement campaign GLOBE at Night. The 2011 campaign takes place in two parts.  The first one starts tomorrow (February 21st) and runs though Mach 6th.  After March 6th the Moon interferes too much for a couple of weeks.  The second campaign is from March 22nd to April 4th for the northern hemisphere (March 24th to April 6th for the southern hemisphere…investigate the positions and elevations of the Moon north and south of the equator in late March/early April to find out why the dates vary a couple of days).

Okay, first, the idea is simple.  Go outside after it’s dark and find the constellation Orion. Find the latitude and longitude of where you are with a GPS unit or a website like Google Earth.  The light pollution data consists of matching what you see in the sky to one of seven magnitude charts. Pick the one that matches what you see best and enter it into our database online. Multiple observations are encouraged from different points around town.  I take bike rides at night after sunset to record data.  Each night I ride a different direction and take lots of data around my area of the city AND get exercise at the same time!

For the late March campaign, you might notice Orion is getting a little low in the sky.  This year we are using Leo (northern hemisphere) and Crux (southern hemisphere) for the late march campaign.  Other than that, everything else is the same.

An added feature this year is the reporting page functions on mobile phones. If you use a web enabled cell phone, it will take the date, time and GPS coordinates from your cell phone to make your life even easier (the first time you use the site, you might get a message asking permission to access your phone’s GPS.  You will have to say yes for this feature to work).

Once you submit your data, you can go back and look at it on the map viewer.  You can zoom in all the way down to street level to see your observations.

Data from GLOBE at Night can  be used to raise awareness of light pollution issues.  The more data you have, the more research you can do.  In Tucson, GLOBE at Night data is being combined with Arizona Game and Fish Department data to look at the effects of light pollution on bats. Tucson had over 1000 points of data last year, so you need a lot of data to do this type of work, but it can be done.

We had 16,000 measurements last year, so that’s a big hill to climb.  I would love to see some cities give Tucson a run for its money in terms of number of observations.  Just a warning, we have our act together this year recruiting various community groups school classes, amateur astronomers and others to adopt streets and take multiple measurements along their designate street!  So bring it on!


February 20, 2011 - Posted by | Astronomy, citizen science, Dark Skies, GLOBE at Night

1 Comment »

  1. I can’t wait to take part in this!

    Comment by Sarah | February 20, 2011 | Reply

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