Astronomers want help counting stars on Valentine’s Day

To better understand the loss of the night sky due to light pollution, astronomers have asked star lovers and romantics to enjoy the night under the stars and seek help.

Every year, a group of astronomers led by Connie Walker at the National Institute of Optical Infrared Astronomy at the National Science Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, conducts the Globe of Night project. A star that appears in a particular constellation.

This allows you to measure how dark (or bright) the night sky is in a particular location.

This year, the campaign will be run twice. The first is from February 14 to 23 and the second is from March 14 to 24.

“The Globe at Night is a social sciences program, which means that every citizen is a real scientist and can contribute to data, and it’s very easy,” said Walker. “People can go very easily by going out at night and looking up at the stars.”

For Valentine’s Day, the particular constellation that the project is calling attention to civil scientists is Orion.

This chart shows the location of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42) with Orion and the famous constellation sword. It also shows most of the visible stars under good conditions. (ESO, IAU, and Sky and Telescope)

How can you help

Walker said the whole process was easy, especially since Orion is one of the most famous constellations in the Northern Hemisphere this year.

participant is Night’s web app gloves. Request time and date, and location (this can also be done automatically). Then select from seven illustrations based on the number of stars you saw. Finally, ask about the state of the sky at the time of observation, that is, partially cloudy.

Walker described the differences between charts that measure the luminosity or apparent brightness of stars.

“So if you look at Orion a little, it’s like you can see it in New York, which has at most a few stars,” she said. “And seven, as if you were in a national park. There are … thousands of stars.”

Why important

Most people probably do not consider light to be a form of pollution, but it has serious consequences for human health. Environment and wildlife.

For example, light pollution-this is simply “Inappropriate or excessive use of light” According to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), it has affected turtle nesting habits. It is estimated that between 300,000 and 1 billion birds fly to buildings each year, attracted by bright light at night.

This image shows the Earth’s light as seen from space. Many lights, especially streetlights, emit light from below, from the sides, and upwards, causing light pollution. (NASA / GSFC)

As for humans, several studies are linked Artificial light in the shape of cancer.

about 54% of the world live in cities. In Canada, that number has skyrocketed to over 80%. as a result, Most people on earth do not see the Milky Way.

Many people and communities are switching to energy saving LED lights, 2017 survey According to Christopher Kiva of Canada, a light pollution researcher at the GFZ German Center for Earth Sciences, these lights can actually do more harm than good.

This photo of Calgary was taken from the International Space Station on November 27, 2015. Many suburban areas are newly lit compared to 2010, and many areas have changed from orange sodium lamps to white LED lamps. (Provision of Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at NASA Johnson Space Center)

It seems that more lights are being used due to the lower cost of the lights. Kyba, a part of the Globe at Night project, is considering conducting a follow-up to determine if the brightness of the night sky is increasing or decreasing.

But why is it important to see the stars?

“It’s part of our cultural heritage. For tens of thousands of years, it has inspired mankind since the beginning of mankind. It’s an infinite resource for wonders, Is where everything started, “said Walker. “And it’s not just science; being creative in music is the inspiration. [Gustav] Horst PlanetLiterature like, or Shakespeare …. and paintings like Van Gogh.

“If we remove that source of inspiration, what does it do to our culture?”

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