What can I do?

Join Space Place in a citizen science project  where together we take stock of light pollution in Wellington region.   

Space Place is collaborating on this project with Globe at Night Citizen Science.  

What do I need?   

A computer  or  a phone  with internet  access.  

A clear sky and a map of the constellation we are observing (there will be different constellations throughout the year).

Let’s observe how  many stars  we  can see from  our street at night and then report the  data online.  

The best time to do these observations is around New Moon when the Moon is not visible in the night sky. This is because the light from the Moon washes out the stars in the sky (just like artificial light pollution), so when doing stargazing astronomers and stargazers tend to avoid the Moon.  

Breaker Bay by Night, Photo Mark Gee
Breaker Bay by Night, Photo Mark Gee

Here are the dates for 2020 for which we are going to do these observations: 

Orion, Canis Major

Orion, Canis Major












1. Familiarise yourself with the form you need to fill in

Open Globe at Night website and get familiarised with how to fill in the observation reporting form. This is the form we are going to use to  submit the observations.   

As the page opens, the browser can  fill  in automatically a series of questions such as the date and time of your observations and your  location.   

You can also enable the location when you open the page. 

Or you can input the data manually.

Once the location matches, click “location correct” 

3. Screen GAN

Please fill in the location comments below, for example: 


2. Practice your star counting skills

Let’s get familiarised with the sky  charts provided, we will be working with these  charts  so it is important to understand them.   

On the Globe at Night site, if you hover your cursor over the small pictures at the bottom of the chart’s  section  on the webpage, you will get a red square on top of the thumbnail, that  marks  Mag 0, Mag 1, Mag 2, Mag 3, etc.   

Magnitude Charts on Globe at Night site

As an example, when pressing the thumbnail that says Mag 2, the corresponding  picture appears. You will see the picture changing as you press the different thumbnails.   

Depending on how dark your sky is, you will see more or fewer stars  in the sky. Try and match what you see  in the sky at the time of your observation  with one of these maps.  

We also made our own Space Place magnitude maps, to show you a pictorial view of how the same sky would look like at different magnitudes. 

Either of these  sets of maps  will help  you  figure  out how many stars you can see in the sky. 

Note which map shows the closest image to what you saw  in the sky. Usually,  we figure that out by counting how many stars we can see around the Southern Cross. 

Enter your observations on the  Globe at Night  reporting  webpage.   

 If you get stuck please email Space Place or send us a message on social media (Facebook  or Instagram)   

3. Observe!

Now for the real deal Let’s go outside to do some observations!!  

  1. Go outside more than an hour after sunset (8-10 pm local time in April or May). Look at the top of this page for the dates when the campaign is active.
  2. Let your eyes become used to the dark for 10-15 minutes before your first observation. This is important because it takes rhodopsin – the substance that helps us see in the dark, about 20 minutes to be created in our eyes.  
  3. Count the number of street lights you see on your street and note them down, you will need them for the form. Count the number of bright lights that are shining from people’s courtyards and houses.  
  4. And finally, count the number of stars in the sky that you can see and compare them with the maps we provided. 

 If you managed to print the maps, take them with you and use them to count the stars. Use a red light torch to read the maps (it will be dark and red light does the least damage to the dark adaptation.)  

If you saved the maps on your device, make sure the screen is set to night mode – where the screen gets red or amber – again, so that light from your device’s screen does not break down your dark adaptation.  

If you use the link from Globe at Night on your phone, there’s an option to switch on the red background, go ahead and use that it will be good for your eyes.

Make a note of how many clouds you saw in the sky during your observation session.  

We did not use a Sky Quality Meter for this, we only used our eyes. However, if you do have a Sky Quality Meter, then please go ahead and use it.

When you are ready, submit your data!!  

The more observations you do the better, so if you can please come back as often as you can.

The above pictures are a simulation of the sky done with SkySafari 6 Pro. What you see in each of the pictures is the numbers of stars that you will be able to observe in the night sky for different magnitudes sky. For instance if your sky has a lot of light pollution, then you will see less stars. 

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