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February, 2015

Globe at Night Newsletter

Welcome to the February Globe at Night Newsletter. Celebrate the 10th year of this international citizen-science campaign by joining us in collecting observations of the night sky brightness. Our constellation this month, Orion, is a beautiful and easy constellation to find.

Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more dark skies news and Globe at Night Spotlights.

Topics in this month’s newsletter:

Upcoming 2015 Campaign Dates

Orion

Northern Hemisphere
Orion: February 9-18, March 11-20

Orion

Southern Hemisphere
Orion: February 9-18

Energy Saving Day on 13 February, 2015

This year is the International Year of Light! In this context, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) promotes a worldwide project entitled Cosmic Light and Quality Light, whose main purpose is to draw attention to the light pollution of our skies and to the benefits of responsible lighting. In alignment with this mission, the radio station “Caterpillar” is dedicating an evening to energy efficiency and reducing light pollution, entitled “M’illumino di meno” (I’m lighting myself less).

"M'illumino di meno" (I'm lighting myself less)

Listeners of Caterpillar, and Globe at Night fans all around the world, are invited to observe in the evenings preceding February 13th (date of the “M’illumino di meno”), the constellation Ursa Minor, or Little Dipper. Observers, or citizen scientists, are asked to count how many stars, among the seven that make up the constellation, are actually visible.

The observation will then be repeated on the evening of February 13th, during the shutdown of public and private lighting by those participating in the initiative.

The difference between the number of stars visible during the shutdown, and those visible in bright city lighting, is a good measure of light pollution and demonstrates the benefits that could be achieved by reducing lighting and modifying it for better efficiency, less waste and, above all, less dispersion upwards and outwards where it isn’t needed. In conclusion: “I’m lighting myself less… to see the stars. “

To participate, locate the constellation Ursa Minor (Little Dipper) and the North Star. The North Star and two other stars of the Little Dipper are sufficiently bright to be visible even among the city lights, but the other ones are weaker and appear only when the sky becomes darker, as a result of the shutting down lights.

North Star finder charts

For the experiment, you will be asked to enter the zip code and the location from which the observation has taken place, and the condition of the sky (clear, % of cloudiness). At the end of the exercise we will get a map of light pollution, and we may identify the best performing municipalities in dimming their lights!

Finally, the European Space Agency and Italian Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will be taking pictures of her country from the ISS during the evening of February 13. We all wonder if “M’illumino di meno” will make the difference!

For more information, check out these websites:

A Google+ Hangout on Light Pollution’s Effect on Human Health

IDA LogoOn behalf of the International Year of Light 2015, the International Dark-Sky Association is hosting a Google+ Hangout featuring experts in the field of health, Mario Motta and Richard Stevens, and you are invited! They will address the effects of light pollution on human health. The hangout will take place Monday, Feb. 23 at 5pm UTC. This is the first in a series of 6 Google+ Hangouts (one every two months during 2015) that will address specific topics and how light pollution affects that topic. The remaining topics (in order) will be on astronomy, safety, wildlife, energy, wildlife and cultural heritage. Tune in on February 23 by going to the IDA website at www.darksky.org to learn more about light pollution’s effect on human health!

An Incredible Light Pollution Rap

Light Pollution Rap screenshot

Join Coma Niddy on a stellar adventure. In this Science Rap, you lyrically learn about light pollution and why it’s may be blocking your view of the stars. Produced with PBS Digital Studios. (The Light Pollution Song is a Science Parody of ‘Fancy’ by Iggy Azalea.)

Globe at Night Spotlight

Map of Dearborn Heights, MI

The Globe at Night staff simply had to announce that someone or a group of people had contributed over 1,500 data points within an area no bigger than a 4km radius in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. 1,234 of those data points were submitted with the Dark Sky Meter app. We would like to thank those responsible for submitting the data points. We are in the midst of contacting them and if successful, we will write more next month. This is a wonderful example of what science classes can do.

On Pi Day: help us measure globally how the night sky is changing!

IYL Cosmic Light

On March 14 (and September 12), you can join thousands of people around the world in measuring how bright the night sky is where you live. The results from this experiment will help scientists to understand how the night sky is changing over time, as cities switch to LED street lighting. All you need is a place that’s not too close to any street lamps where you have a view of a good portion of the night sky, and clear skies on that night. There are three ways to take part:

Globe at Night (free; all platforms)
In Globe at Night, citizens compare the visibility of the stars in constellations like Orion to a set of star charts. You can either print the charts out in advance and report online later, or use their webapp on your smartphone. There is also the option of submitting night sky brightness measurements using a device called a “Sky Quality Meter” available through Unihedron.com. See globeatnight.org/webapp/. Easy to use and available in many languages.

Loss of the Night app (free for Android and iOS)
The loss of the Night app directs you to specific stars in the sky, and asks whether you can see them with your own eyes or not. The faintest star that you are able to see tells us how bright the sky is. The app is available in many languages. Step-by-step instructions.

Dark Sky Meter app (free for iOS, starting in March)
The Dark Sky Meter app uses the iPhone’s camera to directly measure how bright the night sky is. You first take a dark image with the phone in your pocket to calibrate the camera, then point the phone straight up into the sky and take a second photo.

Try taking your data at 9:26 pm on March 14, because then you’ll be a part of “Super π day” (3/14/15 9:26)! “Super π day” only comes once or twice a century; so join in the fun! And in celebration of the International Year of Light, March 14 is also Einstein’s birthday!

Upcoming Workshops and Conferences

On May 26-28, 2015, there will be the Light Pollution: Theory, Modeling, and Measurements (LPTMM) workshop in Jouvence, Quebec, Canada. The LPTMM workshop examines where light pollution is present and the methods used to measure and model it. For more information, click here.

LPTMM deadlines:

  • Late registration: February 28, 2015

In coordination with the LPTMM workshop is the Artificial Light at Night Conference (ALAN) on May 29-31, 2015 in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. The ALAN conference examines all aspects of artificial light at night. It investigates how light is produced and how humans, wildlife, and the environment are impacted by it. For more information, click here.

ALAN deadlines:

  • Early-bird registration: March 13, 2015

International Earth and Sky Photo Contest

It’s that time of year again. The World at Night is hosting the 6th annual International Earth and Sky Photo Contest in collaboration with the education and public outreach group of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and Astronomers Without Borders. Contest submissions begin in March and end on Earth day, April 22. So start getting your photos ready! More information will follow in late February. Click here to read more about the contest and to see last year’s amazing candidates and winners.

“Little Explorer” by Ibrahim ElawadiLittle Explorer” by Ibrahim Elawadi

NOAO AURA NSF

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