Re: (IAAC) LM Star Count vs Milky Way Perception

Folks use a variety of methods for determining sky darkness, Scott...
(Many of them are listed as options on the IAAC Web form for entering
  http://www.tiac.net/users/lewkaren/netastrocatalog/enter-log.html )

I use the simple International Meteor Organization "star-count" method
myself. This involves counting the stars I can see averted vision,
inside of one of 30 different well-defined triangles and squares
around the sky.

I use this method for several reasons:
  1) I'm already very familiar with it from meteor watching
  2) It IS a standard, quantitative method - at least among meteorists
  3) I can always find areas near the zenith or the object I'm after
  4) I can do counts and NOT prejudice my results with expectations

Number (4) is very important - the problem with the "Ursa Minor" (or
Orion or Hercules or Great Square or...) methods is that I've noticed
it's very easy to "see" a star, once you already know it's there. :)

Those interested can see Bill Arnett's great Web site on how to do it:
Or at the official IMO Web site at:

Of course as this thread demonstrates, the drawback is that measuring
stellar LMs (however accurately) may NOT be a good measure of how your
sky is for seeing a particular extended object! However it is the only
consistent, quantifiable, non-instrumented method I'm aware of.

Clear skies all!