the 94th carnival of space led me to an article by the space writer asking: are your skies dark? i feel like i can see fewer and fewer stars with my eyes in the night sky, and that's not *just* because my eyes are aging or because i recently moved to the cloudy UK! most people on earth live in cities and most cities are completely lit up at night, as you can see in the image below of the earth at night!
a few years ago, i asked a class of 200 university students how many had seen the milky way across the night sky. not even half of them raised their hands! i admit that i didnt see the milky way in the sky until i was 19 and camping in the mountains of california. the sighting coincided with the year i switched my undergraduate major to physics.
in an effort to promote getting out and observing the night skies, the GLOBE at night project begins this week! the main activity is for people all over the world (you!) to go outside and look at the constellation orion between 16-28 March 2009. orion is one of the fun constellations that is visible from both hemispheres, but looks upside down when you visit the other hemisphere!
the GLOBE at night website provides nice explanations as to how to find orion from anywhere in the world, but it's definitely one the most recognizable constellations in the sky.
after you identify orion, you can continue participating in the project by comparing the nighttime sky you see with the GLOBE's magnitude charts, to see how dark your night sky is! you can then record your observations on their website until april 7th, 2009 and compare how dark your skies are to the rest of the world!
orion is up early right now, about 7-10pm local time. happy observing!
... and let us know if you find any exciting or unexpected results!