Last night was the first really clear night all week, and I got out the school telescope for the handful of kids here that are interested in astronomy. After puttering around for a while looking at Jupiter and various deep sky objects, we ended up just lying on the ground looking up at the Milky Way and watching for meteors and satellites (and ended up seeing the International Space Station, purely by luck, since I hadn’t thought to check to see whether it was going to pass over). The kids took turns making up their own constellations and pointing them out to each other with the green laser – a tree! An elephant! A pooping duck! They’re a creative group of teenagers.
Friday night a couple of them took advantage of a brief period of clear skies to collect data for the Great World Wide Star Count, a citizen science project sponsored by the National Earth Science Teachers Association. Friday was the last night to collect data for 2011, so unfortunately it’s too late for anyone reading this to contribute, but the idea is that you count how many stars in the constellation Cygnus are visible from your location and submit the data to the website. It’s a way of comparing limiting magnitude and light pollution levels around the world. Unfortunately the website doesn’t have much information on what, if anything, the data is actually being used for, but the kids still had a great time pouring over the map and looking at the information people had submitted from different areas of the world. If you click through to it we’re the only data point in northern Wisconsin!
Now, of course, we’re back to gray skies and rain. Always rain. When are we going to get more SNOW?