Monday, September 17, 2007

Hey Buddy, Wanna Be an Astronomy Researcher (Again)?

Back in January, I posted my first Hey Buddy... post, introducing a service called systemic that allowed amateurs (like you and me) to contribute to astronomical research. I bring this up now to introduce a new program that will allow amateurs and school children to participate in a project to help map star visibility.

The program, known as the Great World Wide Star Count, allows citizen scientists and school children to record their observations of various constellations during the period of October 1-15. The event, which is free and open to everyone who wants to participate, is organized by the Windows to the Universe project at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), in conjunction with planetariums and scientific societies across the country and abroad. Funding is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Bright outdoor lighting at night is a growing problem for astronomical observing programs around the world. By searching for the same constellations, participants in the Great World Wide Star Count will be able to compare their observations with what others see, giving them a sense of how star visibility varies from place to place. The observers will also learn more about the economic and geographic factors that control the light pollution in their communities and around the world.

This is a great opportunity to get involved in scientific research by enjoying a fun, educational family activity with your kids. I know I plan to participate!

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