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Searching for Darkness

Headwaters Science CenterThe third annual GLOBE at Night program began on February 25, enlisting people around the world in reporting on sky brightness and star visibility. Through March 8, participating science centers are holding public events to encourage citizen-scientists to contribute observations and measurements to a growing global database.

Globe at Night is designed to teach about the impact of artificial lighting on local environments and the ongoing loss of a dark night sky as a natural resource for much of the world’s population. The program encourages participants to observe and record the number of stars visible in the constellation Orion, as seen from different locations. Observers then report their results online by comparing their view with a set of template images that shows the number of stars in the constellation for a range of visibilities. During the 2007 event, 8,491 observations were reported from 60 countries.

Science centers and amateur astronomy clubs that are part of the Astronomy from the Ground Up network, a partnership of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, ASTC, and National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), received special training in using digital sky quality monitors for Globe at Night observations. ASTC participants include DaVinci Science Center, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Headwaters Science Center, Bemidji, Minnesota, National Science Centre (NIHERST) and Bishop Planetarium, Port of Spain, Trinidad, and South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium, Bradenton.

About the image: Volunteer observers locate their observation positions on a map of the Bemidji, Minnesota area. Photo courtesy Headwaters Science Center