Several participants from the Astronomy From the Ground Up online workshop, presented in January, 2008, by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, intend to track the decrease in sky glow during the February 20, 2008, total lunar eclipse using a Sky Quality Meter (SQM).
This is an opportunity to practice using the SQMs in public in preparation for the Globe at Night program coming up February 25-March 8. Globe at Night is an excellent venue for citizen-scientists to get out, look up, and contribute observations to a worldwide assessment of our night sky.
Before the eclipse, you can download a table (below) for visitors to record SQM values and sky conditions onsite during the total lunar eclipse. Listed are the key times for the penumbral and umbral shadow contacts; a diagram of the eclipse highlights; and columns with Time, SQM, Sky, Notes, and By. Print the table for your time zone, then make a zoomed copy onto poster board at a local copy center.
Later you can transfer that data to the Google spreadsheet at http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=p4s-VBT9q2zXDKrOWuTh8Jg&hl=en. Contact Chuck Bueter to request access to the Google document as a collaborator if you wish to participate.
While some new users of the SQM may opt to practice taking casual readings, Jan Hollan notes that there are some procedures to consider before you can infer any knowledge from the measurements. Concurrently, a lunar eclipse offers an opportunity to calibrate your instrument. His thoughtful and detailed comments and several pertinent links are at http://amper.ped.muni.cz/jenik/letters/radiometry/msg00031.html.
Copyright ©2009 Chuck Bueter. All rights reserved.