A Collective Awareness Platform for Promoting Dark Skies in Europe
Artificial light at night is associated with a sense of security, wealth and modernity. Hence, artificial light has become an irreplaceable aid for human activities after the onset of darkness. As a consequence, the illumination of the nightscape increased in its intensity, time and space. There is a growing community, concerned about this increasing illumination of natural nightscapes, because of escalating negative effects on biodiversity, nightlife habitats, visibility of stars and astronomical phenomena as well as on human well being. Raising awareness of the impacts and providing simple measures how the quality of artificial lighting can reduce them, will not only benefit nature and the general public, but also help to save energy and thus tax payer’s money.
The EU project STARS4ALL was launched shortly after the ceremonial closing of the International Year of the Light 2015 (UNESCO). This Horizon 2020 ICT project will develop a collective awareness platform to encourage citizens to care for and preserve the natural darkness of European nightscapes. For the first time, partners from the domains of information and communication technology, social science, economy, astronomy, and ecology will join forces and expertise to create self-sustainable light pollution initiatives. These initiatives will be addressing as many disciplines and domains as possible and will offer a platform for citizen actions in order to increase the awareness of the manifold environmental problems of light pollution.
A network of fixed photosensors will increase knowledge about the changing nightscapes. Games with a purpose will be implemented to support data acquisition and maintenance. And basic functionalities, guidelines and templates will be provided to build data annotation tasks and enable games for ideas involving further data acquisition. Crowdfunding will further allow launching additional initiatives for the protection of the natural nightscape.
The following initial ten light pollution initiatives have either already started or will enable citizen participation in the upcoming six to twelve months:
- Broadcasting of astronomical events: At least 7 astronomical events will be broadcast from all over the world and deliver images and impressions from Northern lights and Lunar or Solar eclipses to citizens. Educational activities around each astronomical event will increase awareness among young people for the cultural heritage of the nightscape.
- Preserving the darkness of European skies by reaching out to citizens. This initiative intends to promote legislation on the protection of the natural nightscape.
- Create and grant a quality label to recognize the sky protection compliances of companies, NGOs, villages or any other kind of institution.
- Recognizing inefficient street lighting systems. Citizens and authorities will be invited to detect lighting fixtures which either are inefficient or are emitting too much light to the sky.
- Determine commercial lighting which are wasting energy, e.g. lights which are systematically left unnecessarily turned on, or are inefficient.
- A citizen sensors network will be created to measure the light pollution of the European villages. For this purpose citizens will be able to purchase and install low cost photometers, which will be sold in the STARS4ALL marketplace.
- Cities at Night (citiesatnight.org) will pursue the active citizen involvement for the generation of a Light Pollution Monitoring Map for European Cities from ISS images.
- Empower European Citizens to create the change they want to see. Within this initiative tools will be provided to create self-sustainable citizen actions which will be carried by existing tools like e.g. change.org or clickanddesign.eu.
- The European Loss of the Night Network will expand the outreach of its community to organize light pollution collective awareness activities (cost-lonne.eu).
- With the Loss of the Night app (http://lossofthenight.blogspot.de) citizens are invited to measure the changes of our nightscape due to artificial light. In return citizens gain knowledge about the still visible or obscured stars and can follow the worldwide achieved data on the brightness of the nightscape (myskyatnight.com).
This light pollution initiative start-up set is expected to generate structures for further self-sustainable initiatives and actions. The community of people concerned about their nightscape is expected to be growing in number and ideas.
To achieve this aim the STARS4ALL team collaborates with partners from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), University of Southampton, Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), CEFRIEL Italy, ESCP Europe and the European Crowdfunding Network (ECN).
STARS4ALL is funded by the H2020 Programme of the European Union under the agreement number 688135. STARS4ALL is composed of 8 institutions (UPM , CEFRIEL , SOTON , NEC, ESCP , IAC , IGB , UCM ) from 6 countries.
STARS4ALL webpage: http://www.stars4all.eu/
Light pollution initiatives: http://www.stars4all.eu/index.php/lpis/
Broadcasting event: http://www.sky-live.tv/
Header image– Starrynight from Teide National Park (Tenerife, Spain). The image includes the Teide volcano, visible near the image center and the moon inside the Milky Way arc, behind a volcanic landscape that includes many large rocks of the “Minas de San Jose” area. Unpolluted skies let a terrific vision of Milky Way, our galaxy. High resolution image. J.C. Casado @ starryearth.