Hey, have I mentioned that it is the International Year of Astronomy? Ok, dozens of times. What have you done to celebrate? The best thing you can do is to get out under the stars and experience the universe for yourself.
One way to do that is to participate in the GLOBE at Night Program which takes place from March 16-28. By doing so you can help to promote Dark Skies Awareness, a cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). In many communities the Globe at Night program is being capped with the World Wildlife Fund’s EarthHour event (www.earthhour.org), which encourages everyone to turn out their lights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time on the evening of Saturday, March 28, the final night of GLOBE at Night 2009.
Both activities are easy and fun.
The GLOBE at Night 2009 program is designed to aid teaching 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. Connie Walker, Globe at Night's director, tells us that “we have now passed the point where more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, which are notorious for being excessively lit or badly lit by artificial lights,” and that “GLOBE at Night is an easy way for people around the world to connect with the increasingly accepted and powerful idea that good lighting saves money, it reduces 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.”
Wow, you can save money, cut on greenhouse gases and enjoy the sky all at the same time.
The past three years of GLOBE at Night have drawn more than 20,000 measurements of the night sky from people in more than 100 countries, and from 49 U.S. states. For more information, and to learn how to make and report measurements, see www.globe.gov/GaN.
Don't despair if your March is too busy or cloudy for you to participate. You can always take part in The Great World Wide Star Count this October.
Dark-Skies Awareness is one of 11 global cornerstone projects being supported by the International Astronomical Union’s IYA2009 efforts. For more information on a variety of programs including the 3 star-hunting programs, a planetarium show, a presence in Second Life,
and joint programs with U.S. national parks, amateur astronomers and some of the greatest environmental photographers in the world, see www.darkskiesawareness.org.
To learn more about IYA2009 internationally, the cornerstone projects, and other activities please visit http://www.astronomy2009.org
Additional information on the U.S. plans and programs for IYA can be found at http://www.astronomy2009.us