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Barrington Hills Uses IYA2009 To Inform and Educate Local Residents

The Village of Barrington Hills, Illinois, USA, has been a year-long participant in IYA2009 activities, such as “100 Hours of Astronomy” and GLOBE at Night.  This town in the Chicago suburbs represents a superb model of how a small community can take advantage of major IYA themes such as dark-skies awareness.  The following YouTube clip shows city manager Robert Kosin being interviewed on a local cable TV news program about the value of dark skies, and the village’s plans for the upcoming weekend of Galilean Nights.


Reach for the Citizen Sky — During IYA2009 and Beyond!

Image by Brian Thieme and courtesy www.citizensky.org This fall a bright star will begin a puzzling transformation that only happens every 27 years. To help study this event, astronomers have launched a new citizen science project called “Citizen Sky” at www.CitizenSky.org . Epsilon Aurigae is a bright star that can be seen with the unaided eye even in bright urban areas of the Northern Hemisphere from fall to spring. This fall it is predicted to gradually lose half its brightness until early winter. It will remain faint during all of 2010 before slowly regaining its normal brightness by the summer of 2011. Since its discovery in 1821, the cause of this dip in brightness has remained a mystery to astronomers. But this time they have a powerful new resource to help study the upcoming event: thousands of citizen scientists. “This star is too bright to be observed with the vast majority of professional telescopes, so this is another area where public help is needed,” said Dr. Arne Henden, director of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). Supported by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, Citizen Sky will recruit, train, and coordinate public participation in this project. What makes this project different from previous citizen science projects is its emphasis on participation in the full scientific method. Participants are not being asked simply to collect data. They will also be trained to analyze data, create and test their own hypotheses, and to write papers for publication in professional astronomy journals. Participants can work alone on all phases of the project or they can focus on one stage and team up with others.