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Updated: October 28, 2010 14:53 IST

Campaign to help see stars in a new light

PTI
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File photo shows a crescent moon close the Venus and the Jupiter over Kochi. A campaign called the Great Indian Star Count gets under way on Friday to help “urbanites experience the wonder of pristinely dark skies”.
The Hindu
File photo shows a crescent moon close the Venus and the Jupiter over Kochi. A campaign called the Great Indian Star Count gets under way on Friday to help “urbanites experience the wonder of pristinely dark skies”.

With stars hardly visible in cities due to light pollution, a campaign is being launched by space gazers to make people aware of the value of pristine dark skies.

A dedicated campaign will begin on Friday to quantify light pollution by counting the number of stars that can be seen in our sky.

SPACE, an NGO, will celebrate the Great Indian Star Count (GSIC) from October 29 to November 12 wherein school children, amateur astronomers and public will be involved in the project.

“Artificial light is essential for our modern society. However, its increased use can cause problems like light pollution,” SPACE Director C.B. Devgun said.

“Light pollution is a concern on many fronts like safety, energy conservation, cost and health besides our ability to view the stars,” he said.

“GISC is a scientific survey to quantify light pollution by counting the number of stars that can be seen in the skies. It is a dedicated campaign for better use of lighting and illumination used in our day-to-day lives, efficient use of electricity and saving of electrical energy,” he said.

SPACE is conducting the programme in India on behalf of the Great Worldwide Star Count this year. GISC has been conducted for several years as part of Project Dark Skies to increase awareness of how light pollution affects visibility, he said.

Great Worldwide Star Count recommends a method of counting stars by which the observer looks at a known constellation Cygnus, the swan, and tries to spot how many stars from this constellation can actually be seen in their sky.

Other methods such as counting how a star is visible through a defined pipe area can also be used.

Sky gazers also point out that the Milky Way galaxy is now reduced to just a name in textbooks as students don’t realise that it can be seen with naked eyes.

With half of the world’s population now living in cities, many urban dwellers have never experienced the wonder of pristinely dark skies, he said.

Students, amateur astronomers and scientific organisations all over India are coming together to participate in the programme that will produce a light pollution map of the world, and show local variations across the map, he said.

This year, the project will be conducted simultaneously over the world as an international effort.



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