Get out of the house, enjoy some night air, and help a global cause!
Join Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other citizens scientists in monitoring light levels in your area as part of International Dark Sky Week, which started on April 19 and ends on April 26. International Dark Sky Week, created in 2003 by high-school student Jennifer Barlow, is a worldwide event held in April on the week of the new moon when skies are darkest.
This is the second year of the CPW Resource Stewardship Program's Dark Skies Monitoring citizen science project, and it invites you to help measure the quality of the night sky.
“It’s important because, at high intensities, light pollution can have a variety of impacts on wildlife, including plants, animals and humans,” says Citizen Science Technician Audrey Spencer. “For instance, it can impact the migration patterns of nocturnally migrating birds as well as the hunting behavior of bats.”
Whether you are a seasoned sky gazer or just excited to try something new, you can participate in the project! If it really turns out to be your jam, you can continue to measure observations all through the year, with CPW suggesting the perfect time to make observations is at least one to two hours after sunset or before sunrise, when the moon is not above the horizon.
"No experience is needed and observations can be made with a smartphone. Volunteers can submit observations through the Globe at Night website or with the Loss of the Night, a free app available for Android and iOS. If cell service is not available, downloadable star charts can be printed in advance and written observations can be submitted online later," says the CPW.
The CPW has rounded up several resources to help you on your quest:
Light pollution map: Shows the impacts of light pollution around the world.
Moonrise and moonset forecasting
timeanddate.com/moon provides a table of daily moonrise/set times, moon phase, illumination, and lots of other information (here's a helpful guide for interpreting the somewhat complicated table: https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/help)
Clear Dark Sky
cleardarksky.com/csk: Provides weather forecasting for astronomical viewing, including predicted cloud cover, temperature, air transparency, etc. The sky darkness line is calculated based on the position of the sun and moon, as well as moon phase.
Do you participate in Dark Sky Monitoring? Drop a few tips in the comments for those just starting out!