How you can help assess light pollution
Posted January 17, 2012
A lot of you may have noticed the constellation Orion clearly visible in our skies of late (weather permitting, of course), and you might be interested to know that it is being used for a science/awareness project through early next week, one that you can participate in if you'd like.
It is focused on light pollution, the amount of light from the earth's surface that is directed up into the sky, which acts to reduce the contrast between the night sky and fainter stars and makes it more difficult to see objects in the heavens.
The idea in the project is to count the visible stars in the area surrounding Orion (or a couple of other constellations depending on your location and the ones you can most readily identify), and then relate that number to an image of the sky that quantifies the magnitude of the faintest stars that are visible in your area. Light pollution can have big impact on stargazing
This is best done on a clear night with low humidity, of course, to reduce effects of clouds, fog or haze. If you or your family would like to join in and see how your observations compare to those taken by thousands of others around the country and world, you can check out the program here.