Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lights Out for Earth

This Saturday, March 28th, at 8:30pm local time all across the United States and the rest of the world, people and businesses will heed the World Wildlife Fund call to turn off their lights for an hour to express their concern for global climate change and commitment to finding a solution. Called Earth Hour, it is a great way to cast your vote for Planet Earth. 

The list of supporters who've pledged to participate is growing and includes some historic sites including the Pyramids in Egypt, the Acropolis in Athens, the Broadway Theater District, the Space Needle in Seattle and the Chrysler Building in New York. You can hear actor and Earth Hour USA Ambassador Edward Norton discuss Earth Hour with Larry King on Wednesday, March 25th at 9 pm ET on CNN. 

We're also celebrating here in Dallas. In anticipation of much of downtown Dallas going dark, the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas is conducting a star party. Everyone is invited to join attend at West Village in uptown Dallas this Saturday night starting at 7:00 pm. TAS members will be out with their telescopes and the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science Planetarium staff will have their portable planetarium set up. The real excitement should start at 8:30 pm as downtown lights go out. Come on out and join us! For more information including directions, go to the TAS homepage.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

GLOBE At Night Update

As mentioned in my previous post, from March 16th through 28th this year people all over the world are helping catalog current light pollution conditions as part of a project called GLOBE At Night. Based on the map reflecting up-to-date observations since the 16th, it looks like there has been broad participation across the United States so far.

Click for full-size image

Although I'm planning to submit several observations over the course of the project, checking various sites besides my own backyard, that's the only observation I've submitted so far but I've at least gotten that much done. Have you taken your turn yet? Come on... step outside tonight, enjoy the evening sky and help advance our understanding of the impact of light pollution on the world!

Click for full-size image

Monday, March 16, 2009

Help Measure Light Pollution Around the Globe

The GLOBE at Night project is an opportunity for students, parents, teachers, amateur astronomers or anyone else interested to participate in real science. Held this year between March 16th and 28th, the project will use observations made by people around the globe to capture information on current light pollution levels. In addition to telling us what things are like now, the observations will also be compared to information collected in previous years so this is a great way to do your part to help identify how much light pollution has changed in areas all over the world.

Participating is as simple as:
  • Find your location in longitude and latitude

  • Locate the constellation Orion in the evening sky about an hour after sunset

  • Match what you see to examples provided on the GLOBE at Night web site

  • Report your observation

It's that easy. The project web site provides everything you need including tools to find your longitude/latitude, magnitude charts and even links to see what others around the world have reported. Keep in mind that the more observations reported, the more accurate and complete the project results will be so you can help by checking the sky over multiple nights and even from other places near where you live.

This is another great way to help celebrate the International Year of Astronomy. Get outside tonight and do your part... I'll be out there, too!

Update: Having gone out and done my observation for tonight (plan on doing other locations over other nights of the project), I have a suggestion: skip the step to look up your longitude and latitude. When you go to the link to report your observation, there is an option there to select long/lat by specifying an address. It is just as simple to wait till you report your observation as to look it up in advance and remember it to enter later on.