Citizen Science

Help us collect information regarding light pollution and energy consumption.

Help preserve the wilderness of the night sky

The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory is calling on citizen scientists to make brightness observations of the night sky over their homes. We would like to collect enough data about the skies over Calgary and surrounding municipalities to gain perspective on increased light pollution and related energy consumption.

After the data is gathered and analyzed, we can share the information with the city and province. The information is particularly important with the construction of ring road and the city's new community development, Providence.

Person with telescope.

Photo taken at the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory.

How to participate

Utilizing sky maps provided by the Globe at Night organization, use your own eyes to gauge the darkness and report your findings using our form below. See #4, Submit your findings.

You can also send a request to the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory to borrow one of our hand-held sky quality meters. These handhelds automatically measure the brightness of the dark night sky with the press of a button. Alternatively, participants can install the Loss of the Night app. This app uses your vision to gauge darkness using a digital sky map. Observations are collected by sky brightness researchers at the University of Berlin.

If the sky conditions are favourable – it’s time to get started!

Gather star charts

Visit the Globe at Night website and find star magnitude charts for a constellation that's overhead at the present time of year. You should find two drop-down lists; one for latitude (Calgary is closest to 50N) and one another for constellation.

Globe at Night website

How many stars can you see?

On a clear night, go outside to the darkest spot in your yard or neighbourhood. Compare your star charts to the constellation you see in the sky and pick the chart that best matches what you see. Make a note of the constellation you examined, magnitude chart number, date and time.

What's the moon's phase?

The phase of the moon is important. Make note of the moon's current phase (see link below for phase reference image), date and time. Be careful not to confuse the waxing and waning phases.

Moon phases

Submit your findings

Make note of your location where you made your observations and fill out the form linked below.

Share your findings