What is The Star Spotting Experiment?

Street lamps, illuminated signs and buildings – lights at night improve safety and make cities more attractive, but have also been shown to have negative effects for humans and animals. The more light there is, the fewer stars you can see in the night sky. How many stars can you see where you live? You can help scientists measure light pollution by counting stars in the sky.

In the Star-Spotting Experiment, thousands of pupils, members of outdoor associations, other clubs and members of the public across Europe are being given the opportunity to contribute to scientific research about light pollution. The project will also create important knowledge about ecology, sustainability and urban planning.

The citizen science project will run from September 2019 to February 2020. The project is initiated by Lund University and Kristianstad University in Sweden. Cork Discovers coordinates the project in Ireland.

For teachers, clubs and individuals:

The Star Spotting Experiment covers a range of curriculum subjects and can be used with both primary and secondary classes as well as for adult education courses. A teacher’s guide and detailed tutorial is currently being translated into English and will be available in September. Before, during and after the experiment, pupils and teachers will have the opportunity to interact with participating researchers and each other via a dedicated Facebook group.

Everybody is invited to take part in this citizens experiment. Schools, scout groups, hobby-astrologists, parents, or individuals are all welcome to register at bit.ly/star-spotting to receive free tutorials and templates.

How it works:

  • Take a cardboard tube (e.g. a kitchen paper roll), a bit of string, tape and a protractor to make your measuring tube and a compass.
  • Download the app “The Star-Spotting Experiment”/”Stjärnförsöket” to your mobile or tablet.
  • Go out at least one hour after sunset and wait for ten minutes so that your eyes can adjust to the darkness. Then point the tube in nine different directions in the sky and count how many stars you can see through the tube.
  • Report this in the app along with information about the day, time, location, and weather. You are welcome to go out and do this this several times.
Watch the scientists behind the Star-Spotting-Experiment explain how it works (Swedish with English subtitles):
Episode 2: Star-Spotting in Practice: https://youtu.be/qF3RqsmDNz8
Episode 3: Tips and Advice: https://youtu.be/UIdJHSkiO0M
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