SkyScience – Earth Science Week 2014

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Help NASA do #SkyScience
In celebration of Earth Science Week, October 12 -18, NASA invites you to look up at the sky and help scientists who study Earth’s clouds by participating in #SkyScience.

Clouds are an important part of Earth’s atmosphere, and NASA scientists are studying how they affect our weather and climate. Clouds cover about half of the planet at any one time, ranging from high, wispy cirrus to dark, rumbling thunderheads. By participating in #SkyScience you will help NASA learn more about the types of clouds where you live, work and play, and help all of us celebrate the beauty of Earth’s atmosphere, and the science behind it.

Learn more:
What Are Clouds?
Earth Observatory: Clouds & Radiation
Improving Climate Change Predictions, One Cloud at a Time

What’s #SkyScience?
You don’t need a Ph.D. in a field of science to be a scientist. All it takes is curiosity and a bit of planning, and you’ll become a “Citizen Scientist” in no time!

#SkyScience highlights two of NASA’s programs studying Earth’s atmosphere.  S’COOL, Students’ Cloud Observations Online, focuses on cloud observations as “ground truth” measurements to assist in the validation of the CERES instrument on NASA satellites passing overhead. Sky Art is an online community where the public can share in the beauty of nature and the science behind it by submitting sky photos related to NASA Earth science mission research areas.

How to Participate:
It’s easy to participate in #SkyScience, just follow steps 1 – 4 below to join in the fun! You may also meet other participants in the #SkyScience Facebook event and Google+ event.

Find your satellite
Cloud observations submitted through the S’COOL project help NASA scientists validate satellite data, so you will want to schedule your #SkyScience when a NASA satellite is passing overhead.

Three NASA satellites pass over most every location on Earth every day. Terra flies over in the morning, generally between 10 am and noon. Aqua and Suomi NPP pass over in the afternoon, generally between 1 and 3 pm.

Click here to find your satellite overpass times.

Observe your clouds
Download both the Cloud Observation Report and Cloud Identification Chart below and be prepared for your satellite overpass. You’ll want to have a pen or pencil handy too. At the appointed satellite overpass time (within +/- 15 minutes), head outside and simply look up. Use the Cloud Identification Chart to help you make accurate observations of low, mid and high-level clouds. Don’t forget to report any airplane contrails you see, as these are clouds too!

Stumped on a cloud type? There’s more help here:  Online Cloud Chart and Observation Tips.

Report your data online
After your sky observation, you’ll need to report your data through the S’COOL website.  Approximately a week later, you’ll receive a report via email with the satellite data and images taken from space on the same day and time as your observations.

Click here to report your cloud observations.

Share your photos as sky art
We’d love to hear about your #SkyScience experience too! Snap a photo of sky art (i.e. clouds, weather, sunrises and sunsets, moonrises and moonsets etc.) and share it with us.



For Schools & GLOBE:
If you are a teacher and want your classroom to participate in #SkyScience, you can visit the S’COOL Teachers site to register. Please do this in advance of Earth Science Week if possible. Click here for registration and classroom lessons, activities, and downloads.

If you are a GLOBE school and want to participate in #SkyScience, use the GLOBE cloud protocols and data collection process on globe.gov.

Earth Science Week is a national and international event organized by the American Geosciences Institute to help people gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth sciences and encourage stewardship of our planet. This year’s theme is “Earth’s Connected Systems,” and NASA is encouraging the public to participate in Earth Science Week via #SkyScience.

Earth Science Week




Page Last Updated: October 1st, 2014
Page Editor: Tony Greicius