NASA Invites Students to Help Astronaut Count the Stars

Aug 25, 2006, 01:00 ET from NASA

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- NASA and the Canadian Space Agency
 (CSA) are collaborating on a new education activity that helps students
 become astronomers. The Star Count Project will investigate the visual
 quality of the night sky and help assess the extent of atmospheric light
     There are many factors that affect how many stars can be seen at night.
 NASA and the CSA are inviting U.S. and Canadian students to participate in
 an effort to study these factors.
     The project was suggested and is being supported by CSA astronaut Steve
 MacLean. He is a member of the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the
 next mission, designated STS-115, to the International Space Station. The
 mission is scheduled to launch Sunday, August 27.
     MacLean will perform the Star Count experiment during the mission.
 While in space he will upload star observation information into a database
 via the Star Count Web site. As part of the project, students will learn
 how to estimate the number of stars observed based on random samples of
 sections of the sky. Students will add to the database by entering their
 location, number of stars observed and information about their viewing
 conditions. The students will be able to compare their observations with
 MacLean's and other observers.
     Star Count is a project of the NASA Student Observation Network. The
 network is a collection of online inquiry-based activities that challenge
 students to find answers to research questions by making their own
 observations and interpreting them with NASA data.
     To participate in the Star Count Project, students should visit:
     The Star Count Project is directly tied to NASA's major education goal
 of attracting students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics
 studies. NASA is committed to engaging and retaining students in these
 disciplines which are crucial to the agency's future missions.
     For information about NASA education programs, Star Count Project and
 the Student Observation Network, visit: