Andrea Giacomelli Luciano Massetti Francesco Sabatini Elena Maggi


Research on light pollution and its effects developed in Italy through a peculiar path. After originating seminal work in the late Nineties, above all the first world atlas of night sky brightness, the academic system apparently did not leverage this asset to a wider set of studies. In parallel, some activities which are prerequisites to research and analysis, such as measurement campaigns or development of calibration tests, were initiated in a “grassroots mode” by other sectors of society, such as non-governmental associations.

One of the relevant example of this process is the BuioMetria Partecipativa project which was started in 2008 in Italy with the aim of encouraging non-professionals to collect data on light pollution as a strategy for environmental awareness raising. The BMP project conjugates this component with a scientific approach, allowing the collection of valuable quantitative environmental data, using a low-cost device, called Sky Quality Meter (SQM), provided to citizens. The measurements are loaded to a database on the project web site, and are published in a variety of formats.

In 2011 the system was extended to collect data from fixed SQM stations for continuous monitoring, with the development of automated data harvesting procedures and leading to complement the citizen science measures with more high-quality time series of light pollution data.

At the national level, the project obtained considerable recognition, in terms of citizen participation and media coverage. Most interestingly from a research perspective, the project acted as a trigger to initiate light pollution studies by Italian experts, namely in the areas of biometeorology and marine ecology.

The article will review the process which led the authors to escalate their operations from awareness raising to research, and will provide an overview of the models and of the first tests conducted in the context of our research studies.