Become an Amateur Astronomy Scientist
Amanda White, the Public Outreach Manager at the Green Bank Observatory explains the Globe-at-Night program and how by participating you can both enjoy West Virginia’s ideal dark sky’s and their outstanding star gazing opportunities, and help out science by becoming an amateur Astronomer by documenting the stars you observe.
“The Green Bank Observatory Science Center has launched a West Virginia dark sky’s initiative” said White. “This was important to us for several reasons. Dark sky’s are important to the earth and April 22nd marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, which is really awesome. We thought what a better way to celebrate this accomplishment than by teaching what light pollution is and the importance of dark sky’s are to the Eco-system and to earth. Dark skys are also important to astronomy (while) light pollution does not negatively impact observations with radio telescopes as much as (for) our colleagues and collaborators at optical observatories, but it’s still important. And star gazing is just plain fun, and a treasure that we don’t want to lose. Looking up at the stars is especially nice in todays unique times, because we are all looking for safe activities to do while social distancing.”
“So, we’d love people to join us in this movement, and there are ways to help. One way is to participate in the Globe-at-Night program. Globe-at-Night is an international campaign to raise awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting the public to measure and report their night sky brightness observations.”
“West Virginia has the darkest skys on the East Coast with wonderful star gazing opportunities. And we’d love to get the state recognized for that.”
Amanda says that the dates of the current Globe at Night campaign are April 14th through the 23rd during which times the public can participate in the dark sky surveys.
“The campaigns are schedules during optimal star gazing conditions, and sky survey responses from citizen scientists, which anyone can be.” said White. “so, we are hoping we can get lots and lots of people from across the state to participate in these surveys.”
“People can access more information about the West Virginia dark skys initiative by finding the Green Bank Observatory on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. ‘Hashtag WV Dark Sky’s’ directly links to resources about this program. We’ll be posting more about how people can help (and) we’ll be giving away a night sky bundle of items from our gift shop. And it’s going to be a lot of fun, so we hope people will check us out on-line and join us in showing what a beautiful (night sky) view we have here in West Virginia.”
You said the campaign is about measuring light. How would people do that individually?
“You do these measurements with your naked eye” answered White. “And I will be doing some videos about how exactly to fill out these surveys. They are at ‘www.globeatnight.org’ and it walks you right through how to fill out those surveys. So, you’ll start with the time you took the observation and you’ll put in the coordinates for your location.”
“Each campaign runs from a different constellation, and for our next campaign, the constellation is going to be Leo. So, it maps out the different stars that you can see from that constellation, and just using your eye, you will match up what you can see from where you live with the appropriate chart showing which are the lightest stars you are able to view from where you live. “