Press Release

NASA Inites Students to Help Astronaut Count the Stars

By SpaceRef Editor
August 25, 2006
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NASA Inites Students to Help Astronaut Count the Stars

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 pollution.

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:

SpaceRef staff editor.