Earth at night. Composite image by C. Mayhew & R.
Courtesy of NASA.gov.
Are you a stargazer? Act quickly! Unfortunately, a majority
of Americans will never have the opportunity to see a sky unobstructed by
ambient light and air pollution, illuminated by stars and not artificial
fluorescents. This fact is the impetus behind the GLOBE at Night Campaign.
“GLOBE at Night” is an engagement initiative to inspire
people to experience the worlds beyond our own wonderful world by observing the sky at night. The public is encouraged to actively participate in
this grassroots scientific effort to chart the impacts of light pollution on
our views of the cosmos. Easy instructions explain how to submit nighttime sky
observations to the GLOBE organization, which undertakes the task of compiling
and analyzing data from viewers around the Earth each year. Visit the website for more information on how to to participate.
There are great extension resources for teachers, students, and parents,
including family activity packets in six languages and e-postcards to send to
This year’s observation period ends Saturday, March 8, and
views are likely to become increasingly clouded in the future as the world
continues to urbanize. In fact, 2008 marks the first time in history when over
half of Earth’s population will be living in cities!
I feel lucky to have had an opportunity to witness a seriously
star-saturated sky a few summers ago during a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park. Breathtaking vistas
and charismatic megafauna greeted us at every turn along the park’s loop road
during daylight hours. One evening we crossed back through the North entrance
after a trip out to small-town Montana.
Gazing sleepily out the car windows, we were collectively awakened by the
dazzling twinkle of the starlit sky. Hailing from suburban eastern Massachusetts, we had never seen a sight
quite like it. Immediately, I understood why Montana’s state epithet is “Big Sky
Country,” and what the ancient explorers had been describing in the many
colorful accounts I had read. It was truly awe-inspiring–I wish everyone could have
such an experience!
Another fortnight feature is rapidly approaching the end of the road–the U.K.’s Fairtrade Fortnight ends Sunday, March
9. Visit the Fairtrade Foundation’s
website to learn more about environmentally, socially, geographically responsible fair-trade products.
Sarah for My Wonderful World.