EUROPE AND THE STARS
Now, images from the International Space Station will be used as light pollution indicators
Do we have the right to see the stars? Can you “turn off” the sky? Who secures for us the right to darkness?
Light pollution is a huge problem at the moment. Biodiversity is threatened, lack of rest causes physiological alterations, energy is wasted, astronomical observations become impossible… The society in which we live has no choice but to turn off unnecessary lights and adapt those it needs for normal development. The European project STARS4ALL draws attention to the “blindness” regarding how we are getting polluted by light. It is a silent issue.
For the sky inherited from our ancestors to continue to shine, it depends more than ever on the young. STARS4ALL and the veteran Ruta de las Estrellas project have joined efforts to foster scientific insights and together defend the Universal Right to the Dark Skies.
Now, European students have the opportunity to participate in a competition where the winners will witness one of the most amazing astronomical events in the World: A Total Solar Eclipse. This experience will be supervised by recognised professionals such as astrophysicists and astrophotographers.
Only if we correctly identify the problem will it be possible to solve it. Nighttime images taken from the International Space Station (ISS) by NASA, ESA, JAXA, CSA-ASC and ROSKOSMOS astronauts are a valuable source of light information. We have all enjoyed these images for their spectacular geographical features, atmospheric phenomena, cities from space … What began as a game to entertain the long days in space, ended up creating a huge database of images. In addition, the cameras of the International Space Station hold the best clues to identify the sources of the artificial light at night that is polluting our sky.
Participants in the competition will be able to choose one of two different paths:
- Amateurs will be able to use the Night Knights application based on Cities at Night project to classify night images from the ISS.
- More skilled users will be able to use the Cazasteroides (Asteroid Hunters) application to detect asteroids from the dark skies of the Canary Islands.
The winners of each application will join us on an astronomical expedition to the United States along with students of the Ruta de las Estrellas project. The innovative proposal “Route of the Stars 2017 – STARS4ALL” (RES2017) has the following main objectives:
- Awaken the passion to know and develop personal and entrepreneurial skills.
- Strengthen respect for the natural environment in fragile ecosystems of the Planet, preserving and defending the natural darkness of night landscapes.
Anyone who is studying in the European Union during the 2016-17 academic year can register and participate in the competition (see details). In the last two weeks of August, the winning students will be part of the Shelios 2017 astronomical expedition whose main objective is to observe and relay live (via the web portal sky-live.tv) a Total Eclipse of the Sun from the American state of Idaho.
Miquel Serra-Ricart, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) and responsible for the project RES2017, comments: “Since 2004 and with the Star Route project we have awakened, from the hand of the skies, scientific vocations in more than a hundred students. With STARS4ALL the project expands across Europe while introducing a new concept in the lessons students will learn: the right to the light of the stars and the defense of dark skies free of light pollution. “
The goal of STARS4ALL is to raise public awareness of the existence of light pollution in many of the places we live, and the importance of taking measures to reduce it.
- Rules and inscriptions: http://stars4all.eu/index.php/lpis-usa-competition/