GLOBE at Night wants you to look up!

The entire universe in blog form
March 22 2011 12:00 PM

GLOBE at Night wants you to look up!

[I made an error below, I had originally written that Orion was the target constellation, but it's in fact Leo and Crux. I have updated this page.]

As I recently wrote, light pollution is a real problem. Wasted light from ground illumination goes into the sky, washing out the stars. But just how bad is it?

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


GLOBE at Night wants to find out. This is an international citizen-science project, trying to map the sky illumination over the entire populated planet. And they need your help!

It's actually pretty easy. All you have to do is go outside and find Leo (if you are in the northern hemisphere) or Crux (if you're in the southern). Then look at the stars and try to figure out the faintest ones you can see. Compare that to a GLOBE at Night star magnitude chart and then report your results.

That last link is actually designed to work with phones, too, so you can do this while on the go.

I like this project a lot. It's simple, easy to do, and using Leo/Crux is smart: they're both easily recognizable constellations. And the beauty of this project is that it has two outcomes. One is that it shows people just how bad the skies are getting, which is important. But it also simultaneously gets people to do one of my favorite activities of all time: looking up.

And if you're a teacher, this is a great learning opportunity for your students, too!

GLOBE at Night is running two campaigns, time periods they want people to go out and do this: from March 22 (today) to April 4 in the northern hemisphere, and from March 24 to April 6 in the southern. So go outside and start observing!



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.