Seeing Stars: Looking for Light Pollution
Recommended for: Ages 12 and up
Badges: Citizen Scientist, Maryland Skies
Download this activity as a PDF.
Most of the time light helps us to see. But when it comes to looking at the night sky, it’s the opposite. Light is a type of pollution. Light can stop us from seeing stars, planets, and even galaxies.
In this activity, learn about light pollution and ways to use lights more mindfully.
What You Need
A phone. Download the app “Loss of the Night”
Watch this video by International Dark Sky Association. This video will help you answer the questions: What is light pollution? What are the effects of light pollution? What would they sky look like without light pollution? What can we do to help preserve the night sky?
Explore the two maps below. These maps show light pollution across the globe.
Can you find your home on these maps?
What do you notice about these maps?
Do you see any patterns?
What is surprising about these maps?
Try this simulation created by Globe at Night to help you see the effects of light pollution on your ability to see stars: https://www.globeatnight.org/light-pollution-interactive.php
First, click on your location on the map.
Next, choose which constellation you want to look at.
Then, move your mouse over the “Choose a Magnitude” bar. This gradient represents the level of light outside.
Now, count how many stars you can see for each number on the “Choose a Magnitude” bar. When can you see the most stars? When can you see the least?
What does your night sky look like?
Do you think light pollution effects your view of the night sky? Why or why not?
What can you do to help preserve the night sky?
What can your community do to help preserve the night sky?
Become a citizen scientist and help researchers from around the world. Use the app “Loss of the Night” on your phone to make observations of your sky and send your observations of the night sky brightness.
First, wait until it is dark and head outside. Make sure that you are somewhere that you feel safe and are on a flat surface.
Then open the app and select Tutorial. This section will tell you how to use your phone to see if you can find stars.
When you are ready, use the menu to select, “Star Observing Stars.”
Follow the instructions in the app to submit your observations.
Want to complete this task towards collecting a Wondernaut badge? Share with the Wondernaut community your observations of the night sky: Did light pollution effect your view? What are ways that we can help keep the night sky dark?