The Star-Spotting Experiment takes off around Europe

This year’s Swedish Researchers’ Night mass experiment – the Star-Spotting Experiment – is to be run in Ireland, Spain, the UK and Sweden this coming autumn and winter.

Photo: Inhousebyrån, Umeå University

In the Star-Spotting Experiment, schools, associations and members of the public are being invited to help researchers map the light pollution we experience in our everyday lives by counting the stars they can see through a paper tube.
 Around 14,000 pupils in 232 schools across Sweden have so far signed up to participate in the citizen science project, along with 42 outdoor associations and clubs and 157 members of the public.

Now they are to be joined by participants from three other European countries.

In the UK, the Star-Spotting Experiment is being run by the Natural History Museum in London.

”Whilst we now know that the expansion of artificial lighting is having a significant impact on the functioning of entire ecosystems of life – from insects and birds to fish and mammals – there is still much to learn. We are excited to be part of the EU-wide Star-Spotting Experiment and look forward to working with participants across the UK to map light pollution at a local level.”, says Dr John Tweddle, Head of Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, The Natural History Museum in London.

Whilst we now know that the expansion of artificial lighting is having a significant impact on the functioning of entire ecosystems of life – from insects and birds to fish and mammals – there is still much to learn.
    – Dr John Tweddle, Natural History Museum, London

In Ireland the project is run by University College Cork and Trinity College.

“We are delighted to take part in this exercise: it is an excellent means of promoting astronomy, while demonstrating the environmental impact of light pollution to students and the public at large,” commented Dr Paul Callanan, Professor of Astronomy in the Department of Physics at University College Cork.

It is an excellent means of promoting astronomy, while demonstrating the environmental impact of light pollution
    – Dr Paul Callanan, University College Cork.

In Spain, ”Cuenta Estrellas” is run by Fundación Descubre, ESCIENCIA, La Palma Center & Fundación Madri+d.

The researcher leading the project is Dr Urban Eriksson, a researcher and university lecturer in physics with a specialisation in astronomy education at Lund University and Kristianstad University.

“It is exciting that the Star-Spotting Experiment is growing and we look forward to being able to compare data between different countries in Europe”, he says.

The Star-Spotting Experiment is co-ordinated by the Swedish non-profit organisation, Vetenskap & Allmänhet, VA (Public & Science) as part of ForskarFredag – European Researchers’ Night celebrations in Sweden.

We give a warm welcome to our new partners and look forward to an exciting autumn and winter of star spotting!


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