December 16, 2018

05.10.09 The 3rd Annual Great World Wide Star Count!

Tired of the deteriorating sky conditions in your neighborhood? Remember a childhood when the Milky way was visible in your backyard, such as it was in our native rural northern Maine? Now there is something that you can do about it. The Great World Wide Star Count wants you to measure the limiting magnitude from your locale in an effort to document light pollution. Its simple; if you can locate the constellation Cygnus in the northern hemisphere and Sagittarius in the southern, then you can participate. No equipment is required, just your eyes, and a tutorial is included on the site. This is the third year around for the Star Count, and we’ve participated here at Astroguyz for the last two years running. It’s great fun to see the reports from various areas, as well as were the astronomers are! This year, the dates run from October 9th to the 23rd, and you can enter reports from multiple sites…put your town on the map! Post Anti-Light Pollution slogans! Show the neighbor the damage that vintage “Battle of Britain” anti-aircraft spotlight is causing! We prefer to document our impressions of the sky for later entry via digital voice recorder, but you’ll no doubt settle on your own system. Now is the time to try a “dry-run” a night or two before the Count starts Friday…anyone thought of posting observations via Twitter? What would be really great is to get reports from such off-the-wall locales such as Thule, Greenland or Poipet, Cambodia…do your part to raise light pollution awareness in your neighborhood!

The AMA Joins the Fight!

Astronomers now have a new powerful ally in the fight against light pollution; the American Medical Association(AMA). The June 16, 2009 vote was passed unanimously to recognize light pollution as a health hazard, further moving the cause from a special interest plea to a general mainstream concern. The AMA has echoed with its large voice what we’ve suspected all along; humans need darkness. A lack thereof in major urban areas has encroached on the suburbs and formerly pristine rural areas and can contribute to sleep deprivation and elevated stress levels. In addition, the glare itself can pose a safety hazard for night-time drivers. I’ve personally driven in many urban areas were headlights weren’t even necessary, and hence forgot to turn them on! And let’s not forget the impact on wildlife, or the waste in cash, illuminating the undersides of aircraft…. or the needless increase in CO2 emissions. Let’s hope this not-so-minor move brings back our night skies!