Tuesday, March 17, 2009

GLOBE at night - observe orion!

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!


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Luke said...

I just got back from stargazing and used the center star of Orion's belt to calibrate my right ascension!

Venus is nearing its inferior conjunction; you can see it above the sun at sunset. Saturn is the only planet in the night sky.

Again, great blog!

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I lived in a cornfield for the first 20 years of my life. The night sky was something we watched for fun. And now that I live in town, I miss it. Perhaps a road trip out to some darkened country road is in order.

Deepanjan Ghosh said...

Cities are not only too lit up, I think the pollution also interferes with stargazing. In Calcutta, where I am from, we cannot see too many stars, but I can see Orion effortlessly from my balcony every night, and keep noticing how it seems to be going back and forth as the seasons change. Gotta get out that old astronomy encyclopedia, because Orion is the only constellation who's shape I can remember!!!

BrianG said...

We live in the middle of the Indiana corn fields and the milky way is still clearly visible, although Lafayette, In looks like the beginnings of dawn in the North all night long.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I saw the Orion many times but never knew what it was!

I'm used to be really interested in astronomy but never got a chance to really connect with it. The closest I got was flipping through library books and I haven't done that in years.

Now, it's wonderful that I can read about it here! Amazing!:)

Thanks alot, kudos!:)

Frankie Perussault said...

Hi, I went twice through the GLOBE's project but somehow when I get to 'report' the page is blank. Anyway here's my foundings:
lat: 46.497 N long: 1.39 E
at 20.15 hr on 19 March 2009
the magnitude when looking at Orion from outside my place was 3

Can you pass the info?