Mag 3 skies—or not?
So, last night I took my light pollution reading for the Globe project. Turns out my neighborhood has closer to magnitude 4 skies than mag 3! Well, I don't think I'll change the name of the blog, even if it is a bit pessimistic.
I took my reading across the street in a neighbor's yard since I couldn't actually see Orion from my backyard -- a giant tulip poplar is in the way. There were two bright streetlights in my view; I used my hand to shield my face from the closest one. A bit of thin cloud or contrails made the transparency a bit worse even than it could have been.
It's true that when you get a good clear, dry night, you really can see a few stars around my house. It's mostly the streetlights, power lines, trees, and buildings that make actual stargazing virtually impossible. And if there's moisture in the air, forget about it. The whole sky looks like the inside of a giant, orange zeppelin.