Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Loss of the Night app is 1 year old!

The Loss of the Night app went into the play store on April 22, 2013, so today is the app's first birthday!

Since that time, we started this blog, we held our first Flashmob for Science, we upgraded the app to support 11 languages, and most importantly, we've had over 11,000 observations submitted! Most of the observations were taken by people using the app under non-ideal conditions (e.g. with clouds or the moon out), but tonight we will probably reach our 1,500th observation with data that we can use for analysis!

The app's birthday means that we are going to start to have data taken at the same location in multiple years. The major scientific goal of this project to understand how the sky is changing as the world transitions to LED lamps. This is something we can't measure with the current Earth night observing satellites because they are not sensitive to the blue light that is typical of the most energy efficient LEDs. (And also because they look at the ground, not the sky!) We can only get these measurements by having people from around the world look up.

I think that 1,500 observations in the first year is a great start, but we really need your help to expand further! The more observations we have, the more accurate our measurement of the change in the night sky will be, and the more quickly we will be able to report it. So please, tell your friends and family about the app, post a link to the download site on Facebook, and the next time you have a clear night sky in your city, please go out and do a measurement!

Other ways you can help:
  • We would love to hear back about your experience with the app, especially if you had any problems, or if you have recommendations for how we can improve it! Please comment here
  • We are looking for translators for future releases.
  • We want photos of good and bad lighting for the view from your app series.
  • We are looking for a landscape photo taken in an area with no light pollution on an overcast moonlit night.
You can now view the data you submit on the GLOBE at Night map page. It should appear there within a few minutes of your data being transferred. If you zoom in and find your point, you'll get a bit of feedback about how bright the sky was, and the range over which you are uncertain whether stars are visible or not. (Please note that this is a preliminary analysis, and in some specific cases the algorithm that calculates the range doesn't work properly.) This information will be available to you immediately in the next release of the app (we are still working on securing funding).

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed data! Without you, there would be no project!

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