IYA2009 Boosts GLOBE at Night to Record Number of Dark-Skies Observations

The global citizen-science campaign GLOBE at Night 2009 recorded 80 percent more observations of the world's dark skies than the program's previous record-including double the number of digital measurements-thanks in large part to active participation and publicity from the network of 140 countries currently celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009).

Now in its fourth year, GLOBE at Night encourages people everywhere to observe the prominent constellation Orion at least once over a two-week period and compare the number of stars that are visible using their unaided eyes with a series of charts that show how Orion would appear in skies ranging from very dark to very bright skies. The program is designed to aid teaching about the impact of excessive artificial lighting on local environments, and the ongoing loss of a dark night sky as a shared natural resource for much of the world's population.

The 2009 campaign, held from March 16-28, garnered 15,300 geographically "mappable" measurements of Orion, nearly 7,000 more than the previous record of 8,491 that were contributed in 2007. Only 1 percent of the 15,456 observations in 2009 were "flagged" as not mappable. The percentage of flagged observations was reduced markedly this year thanks to a new online tool that helps identify the country from which the observation originated.

Measurements were received from more than 70 countries in the 2009 campaign, with 17 countries reporting more than 100 Orion measurements. About 73 percent of the total measurements came from the United States (approximately 11,270 observations), including all 50 states and the District of Columbia, followed by Chile (about 900), the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom (both over 200). Other countries reporting more than 100 observations were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Macedonia, Mexico, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Spain and Turkey.

In addition, 19 countries contributed another 1,474 "mappable" digital measurements using handheld Sky Quality Meters (SQMs). Two-thirds of the SQM measurements were from the US, with nearly 200 from Chile. Romania and Mexico followed, with over 70 and 60 SQM measurements, respectively.
For more http://astronomy2009.org/news/updates/258/