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RAS PN 09/11: Share your nightscape with the world

Last Updated on Monday, 29 March 2010 22:02
Published on Monday, 16 March 2009 00:01
Globe_at_night_chart.jpg

GLOBE at night, the international star-counting programme, starts on Monday, 16 March, 2009, a key activity during this International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). Running between 16 and 28 March, it is a global effort to obtain precise measurements of urban dark skies around the world using sky-quality meters.

INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY PRESS RELEASE
Ref: RAS PN 09/11 (EMBARGOED)
EMBARGOED UNTIL 0001 GMT, MONDAY 16TH MARCH 2009

Issued by:
Dr Robert Massey
Press and Policy Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: http://www.ras.org.uk

RAS PN 09/11 (EMBARGOED): SHARE YOUR NIGHTSCAPE WITH THE WORLD

GLOBE at night, the international star-counting programme, starts on Monday, 16 March, 2009, a key activity during this International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). Running between 16 and 28 March, it is a digital effort to obtain precise measurements of urban dark skies around the world using sky-quality meters.

How dark is your sky? Do you lose counts of the stars in your nightscape or are you lucky to spot even one? The reason city skies are dull compared to beautiful dark skies in the countryside is light pollution. GLOBE at night is your opportunity to contribute into a worldwide survey that will reveal where in the world you can go to see unspoilt dark skies.

Professor Ian Robson, chair of IYA2009 in the UK, says: "Globe at Night is an excellent opportunity for people to get outside and see the night sky. Even from towns and cities it is possible to see Orion, and the information we get from everyone who takes part will allow us to build up a map of light pollution around the UK, and worldwide."

The constellation of Orion, the great hunter, is used to gauge the magnitude of a dark sky (how dark the sky is).  Through counting the number of stars in Orion’s constellation visible to an unaided eye, you can conclude whether your sky has a measly magnitude of 1 (lucky to see even a few stars, normal in urban sprawls like London) or anything up to magnitude 7 (so many stars you lose count, possible in unspoilt natural beauty like, for example, The Shetland Islands).

Dr Connie Walker, senior science educations specialist at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the US national research & development centre for ground-based night time astronomy, said, “We have now  passed the point where more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas, which are notorious for being excessively lit or badly lit by artificial lights.  GLOBE at night is an easy way for people around the world to connect with the increasingly powerful and accepted idea that good lighting saves money; it reduces our greenhouse gases by lowering our use of electrical power; it is better for public safety; and it allows everyone to share the wonders of the night sky.”

For more information, and to learn how to make and report measurements, see www.globe.gov/GaN

To make a measurement, you must wait for astronomical twilight (approximately 20.30 in the UK this week) for the sky to be properly dark, look in a south westerly direction and look for three bright stars close together in a straight line. If you can spot it, you’ve found Orion’s belt.  Go to http://www.globe.gov/GaN/observe_finder.html for further tips.

For more information about dark skies, go to www.darkskiesawareness.org.

ENDS

CONTACTS

Dr Robert Massey
(details above)

Steve Owens
UK Co-ordinator, IYA 2009
c/o Glasgow Science Centre
50 Pacific Quay
Glasgow G51 1EA
Tel: +44 (0)141 420 5010 x.299
Mob: +44 (0)787 905 8120
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY 2009

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009) will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture. It is intended to stimulate worldwide interest not only in astronomy, but in science in general, with a particular slant towards young people.IYA 2009 will mark the 400th anniversary of the monumental leap forward that followed Galileo Galilei’s first use of the telescope for astronomical observations. In the UK the chair of IYA2009 is Professor Ian Robson, director of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, and the co-ordinator for IYA 2009 activities is Steve Owens, also a UKATC employee.


THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.


THE INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is a scientific membership organisation devoted to increasing the understanding and application of physics. It has an extensive worldwide membership (currently around 34000) and is a leading communicator of physics with all audiences from specialists through government to the general public. Its publishing company, IOP Publishing, is a world leader in scientific publishing and the electronic dissemination of physics.

IOP home page
http://www.iop.org

THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES COUNCIL

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) ensures the UK retains its leading place on the world stage by delivering world-class science; accessing and hosting international facilities; developing innovative technologies; and increasing the socio-economic impact of its research through effective knowledge exchange partnerships. The Council has a programme of public engagement to inspire students, teachers and the public with UK science.

STFC has a broad science portfolio including Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Science, It gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the the European organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) and the European Space Agency (ESA). It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory.

STFC is a partner in the UK space programme, coordinated by the British National Space Centre.

STFC home page
http://www.stfc.ac.uk