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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1835. doi: 10.1038/srep01835.

Citizen science provides valuable data for monitoring global night sky luminance.

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Institute for Space Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


The skyglow produced by artificial lights at night is one of the most dramatic anthropogenic modifications of Earth's biosphere. The GLOBE at Night citizen science project allows individual observers to quantify skyglow using star maps showing different levels of light pollution. We show that aggregated GLOBE at Night data depend strongly on artificial skyglow, and could be used to track lighting changes worldwide. Naked eye time series can be expected to be very stable, due to the slow pace of human eye evolution. The standard deviation of an individual GLOBE at Night observation is found to be 1.2 stellar magnitudes. Zenith skyglow estimates from the "First World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness" are tested using a subset of the GLOBE at Night data. Although we find the World Atlas overestimates sky brightness in the very center of large cities, its predictions for Milky Way visibility are accurate.

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