Brazil’s Citizen-Science Milky Way Marathon

animation of two images of the night sky - one with many stars and the Milky Way, and one with only a few bright stars

Brazil is holding a “Milky Way Marathon”—a national star-hunting citizen-science campaign that serves as a reminder that the Milky Way is becoming less and less known by Brazilians as a result of increasing light pollution in the country.

The star-hunting campaign is called “Que nota você daria ao céu de sua cidade?” which stands for “How would you rate the sky of your hometown?”. For each of the months from June to September, during the week from New Moon to First Quarter, people are asked what kind of “grade” they would give to measure the quality of their local skies. The grades go from 0 (no stars at all) to 7 (a perfect sky). A lower grade represents a sky with more light pollution.

To make the Milky Way Marathon a success, the whole amateur astronomy community in Brazil is communicating through a network of “nodes”. This has brought together a collaboration between amateurs and professionals, working together for IYA2009. One of the results of that effort was recently seen during the 100 Hours of Astronomy—Brazil was the second country worldwide as far as the number of events (second only to the USA).

Further information can be found at Brazil’s IYA2009 Website. There is also a presentation in Portuguese, containing instructions on how to participate in the campaign.