orion.jpg By Bill Marvel

Census takers trek door to door to count people. Bird watchers take to parks and woods for their annual bird count. Volunteers patrol the waters off California and Hawaii looking for whales. But you don’t have to go any farther than your own back yard to participate in this year’s GLOBE at Night star-counting campaign, which ends Saturday, March 8.

As we reported in Keeping Us in the Dark; Fighting Light Pollution (Jan. 28), stars are an endangered species in the night skies above brightly lighted urban areas. As of 2008 more than half of earth’s population lives in cities, which means it’s more important than ever to find out what we’re losing when we create light pollution. This year folks in 110 countries are being asked to look up and count stars and report their findings. Last year, almost 8,500 observers from 60 countries participated.

For last year’s report and details on how to participate this year, including family and classroom projects, go to the instructions page at Globe at Night’s website. The website also features a map of the 2007 observations.