I missed the opportunity to count stars over the weekend. Clouds obscured the heavens Friday and Saturday night, but I had absolutely no excuse not to step outside Sunday evening and participate in the Great World Wide Star Count. Thank goodness that Sky & Telescope‘s Facebook feed reminded me with their article ‘A Star Count for Everyone‘ this morning.
I checked my local five day forecast and I should be able to find Cygnus and count stars tonight and Wednesday. Tuesday, Thursday and especially Friday are iffy. This year, I’m going to try to do it from a couple of different locations, not just my backyard (like I did last year).
Here’s all you need to know to participate:
All you’ll need are a clear evening sky sometime between October 5th and 19th, your own two eyes, and a set of simple star charts. First, download the handy five-page activity guide (available in 16 languages) and print the star charts. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll be looking high up for the constellation Cygnus, and its Northern Cross asterism. If you’re south of the equator, the target area surrounds the Teapot in Sagittarius. Each of the seven maps shows stars down to a different magnitude limit, plus one for a cloudy sky.
Then, after stepping out under the early-evening sky and letting your eyes adjust to the darkness, match one of the charts to what you see overhead. Step back inside and report what you’ve found online. You’re done! (Unlike many contests, you can enter more than once! You might be surprised by how much the sky’s darkness can vary from night to night.)
A Star Count for Everyone, Sky & Telescope, Oct. 5, 2012