Observance of Earth Hour Supports Climate Studies and Sense of Place

Observance of Earth Hour Supports Climate Studies and Sense of Place

Since 2007, hundreds of millions of people worldwide have participated annually in a powerful and symbolic act of earth-centric solidarity. Earth Hour brings together citizens of all ages from around the world to shine a light on climate change and climate action – by turning off the lights!

Held annually in late March (so as to allow the sunset times in both of the earth’s hemispheres to overlap), Earth Hour asks participants to show their commitment to preserving the earth by switching off non-essential lighting for a full 60 minutes. While a single home with its lights switched off may not seem like much of a statement (in fact, it might just seem like nobody is home!), a neighborhood, town, or city filled with homes darkened for Earth Hour makes quite a statement and shows a collective desire for respectful, responsible, and sustainable use of the earth and its resources.  Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Scientists Wanted to Map the Stars

Loss of the Night Citizen Science Project Maps the Night Sky and Levels of Sky Glow

What do you see when you look into the night sky above your home? Turn informal observations of celestial bodies into citizen science with Loss of the Night! Created by German researchers, Loss of the Night is designed to collect information about the amount of sky glow (also known as light pollution) present in populated areas all over the globe. An additional goal of the project is to help users learn more about the stars that they see above them and the seasonal changes that take place in the sky.

A byproduct of densely populated areas, sky glow occurs is the obstruction of night sky views by an excess of light produced on land (by and for humans). Not only does sky glow negatively affect studies of the night sky, but researchers suspect that it may also influence species of plants and animals whose cyclical growth and change relies on their relationship to seasonal changes and, therefore, the moon and stars.

In order to participate and learn, families must download the free Loss of the Night app for Android smart phones. The program determines the phone’s GPS location, and uses the information to generate information about the stars and planets visible above that part of the earth. Read the rest of this entry »

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