Explorit: Citizen science takes on light pollution

By From page A4 | March 08, 2013

We all know that trash or chemicals can pollute our water and our air, but what about light? Can light be a pollutant? The GLOBE at Night 2013 campaign believes so and is seeking your help to demonstrate it.

GLOBE at Night is an international citizen-science program concerning artificial lighting of the night sky such as street lights and lit signs. Such artificial lighting can impair our ability to view the night sky and may affect wildlife behavior and human health.

Citizen-science programs such as GLOBE at Night or Explorit Science Center’s Community Science Project, “Spiders in Your World,” are wonderful ways for all members of the community to contribute to the collection of scientific data. You can check out each of these projects at www.globeatnight.org and www.explorit.org/csp.

GLOBE at Night is asking people all over the world to help it track what the night sky looks like and how visible it is where they live during three periods this spring. The first period is going on right now through Tuesday.

Participation is simple. About an hour after sundown, go outside and look up; see if you can find the constellation Orion or Leo. GLOBE at Night’s website can help you recognize them. Then visit www.globeatnight.org/webapp to record where and when you made your observation and what you were able to see.

Last year, participants in 92 countries made more than 16,000 observations of the night sky. This year, you can add your contribution and GLOBE at Night will map them so you can see how your street compares to thousands of other homes and observation points around the world.

Plus you can take it a step further by advocating for less light pollution. You can join GLOBE at Night’s Adopt-a-Street initiative by visiting www.globeatnight.org/aas2013.php to preserve the night sky in your little corner of the world.

GLOBE at Night’s 2013 campaign will end its data collection for this year on May 8, but with Explorit Science Center you will have plenty of opportunities to participate in scientific experimentation and observation year-round. For starters, join us for a Spider Search Party coming soon to a library or community event near you.

We’ll be observing and photographing spiders in local habitats to collect data on the impacts of climate on biodiversity, so bring a camera or smart phone if you have one. A full list of Spider Search parties with dates, times and locations can be found at www.explorit.org/csp. There are many ways to get involved with Explorit’s Community Science Project. Don’t get left out of the citizen-science loop!


Explorit’s coming events:

* Saturday: Come say hello to us at the Children’s Summer Activities Fair at the Davis Farmers Market in Central Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and find out what Explorit has in store for Summer Science Camp 2013.

* Explorit will be open for spring break, March 25-April 7, from 1 to 5 p.m. with the debut of the “Beautiful World: Science and Art” exhibition.

— Explorit Science Center is at 3141 Fifth St. in Davis. For information, call 530-756-0191 or visit www.explorit.org. You can also “like” Explorit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb or follow it on twitter at @ExploritScience.

Lisa Justice

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