Loss of the Night is a citizen science app that people can use to estimate how many stars they see, and by extension, how bright the night sky is. The goal of the project is to track changes in artificial sky brightness, or light pollution, in urban areas over the long term. The app’s interface is user friendly and allows everyone to learn more about stars and light pollution. You can use Loss of the Night to track how skyglow is changing at your home over time!
How to use the app
When initially opening the app, it provides a brief tutorial on how the app works. By pointing your phone at the night sky and following a circle and arrow, the app will lead you to a specific star. You then tell the app whether you can see it or not. You must track at least 7 stars in the same evening for the science to be valid. The database is refreshed daily, so you might have to wait a day to see your observations pop-up on the app. For data collected from the Loss of the Night app, a chart will appear showing details of which stars other citizen scientists observed.
How you can get the app
To download and install the app on Android and Apple devices, use the following links.
Get the app for an Android!
Get the app for an Apple!
Once you download the app, create your own account using an existing email address. Then, create a username and password that you will remember.
Why using Loss of the Night is fun and important
Loss of Night shows you the locations of stars from where you are, helps you learn more about stars, and allows you to contribute to the collection of light pollution data.
For more information, visit the Loss of the Night website.
Now that you have the Loss of the Night app, we challenge you to use the app to find 7 stars in one night. Take a screenshot and describe why you find it interesting. Submit your answer by messaging our Instagram account at @YCITYSCI for the chance to win a prize and your answer be featured on our page! New Loss of the Night related questions will be added to our Instagram story and page throughout the week. Respond to these questions to have a chance to win additional prizes!
We hope you all enjoyed our week of GLOBE Observer Land Cover! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or comments about those activities.
We are now going to transition into our next week full of Loss of the Night activities on our Instagram! Below are some interesting facts about artificial light and light pollution. Are there any other light facts that you would like to share with our team? Message us on Instagram to let us know!
- Light pollution was first noticed in London and Paris in 1866 when smoke haze prevented citizens from seeing as many stars as previous years.
- Artificial light can confuse sea turtles when they are trying to lay eggs as they look for the moon’s light over the sea to guide them back from the beaches.
- Increases in artificial light at night can disrupt the circadian rhythm, the body’s natural rhythm for sleeping and other important functions!
- Artificial light can even confuse plants causing them to try and keep their leaves over the winter.
- Artificial light at night can confuse lightning bugs, making it difficult for them to find one another to mate.
- It is estimated that roughly 10 to 30% of energy used for outdoor lighting at night is wasted by bad practices and lights, costing an estimated 1 to 3 billion dollars.
- In North America, 80% of people cannot see the Milky Way Galaxy at night due to light pollution.
- The night sky can be up to 500 times brighter in cities than rural or natural areas.
- Light pollution can be reduced by replacing standard lights with low wattage lights.
- Light pollution can be reduced by shielding lights so that their light shines down, not up.
- Light pollution can be reduced by using curtains and blinds at night to keep indoor light inside.
- Oil fields can be major light polluters. The Bakken oil fields in North Dakota look as bright as Chicago and Minneapolis from space due to gas flares and machinery.
- Light pollution can disrupt the migration of certain species of birds.
- The skyglow of Los Angeles is visible from 200 miles away.
- In lakes, light pollution can contribute to algal blooms by preventing the zooplankton from eating algae, affecting water quality.
Featured image: Photo by André Kuipers of the European Space Agency