Great Indian Star Count campaign to help people locate stars

A dedicated campaign will begin tomorrow 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 program 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.

Skygazers 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 program 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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