Public Lab Research note

Participatory night sky quality monitoring

by pibinko | April 25, 2022 14:37 25 Apr 14:37 | #30588 | #30588


The community we are focusing on is in the Farma Valley and its bordering hills. We are in Southern Tuscany, circa two hours drive South from Florence, and three hours North of Rome. Getting here via public transportation is not easy (but we have our own car pooling and sharing options). The core of the community in the Valley has a population around 500, divided in three small hamlets, plus the surrounding villages with which we interact exceptionally touch 1000 people. Overall we are considering less than 1000 residents. The presence of industry is very limited (less than 100 employees in this sector now). There is a relevant number of small and micro-businesses living from as constructors, plumbers, electricians etc., serving both the community itself and the surrounding area. A significant part of the economy is related to the woods in the hills, with logging. Tourism is quite important. Real agriculture takes place more going down to the plains, but there are a couple of very nice wineries and olive oil production points.

Music is also important for our activities. We like soundtracks, and we have our own art+science collective to do community research by, the Jug Band Colline Metallifere.

Our main concern:

Our main concern relates to light pollution, and -more in general- on how people use light. The area where the community is based falls within a wider area which is acknowledged internationally as one of the parts of Italy with the darkest night skies (in the context of Italy being one of the Western countries with the highest levels of light pollution). For this reason, the proliferation of inappropriate lighting will lead to the loss of an important asset for the community.

Obstacles and supporting information:

I have been studying the issue since 2008, so my understanding of it is quite consolidated. From a regulatory standpoint, many regions (and a few states) have a legislation concerning light pollution (for example for Italy please check this link). Current obstacles I see for the issue are both internal and external. Possibly the key element is the combinations of these factors. The internal decision makers in charge of both public (town administrations) and private (e.g. tourist resorts, commercial activities, farms) lighting procurement and operations are not always aware of the state of the art in environmentally sustainable lighting, and tend to accept acritically proposal of lighting coming from external consultants/distributors and other advisors.

Who is engaged in this concern?

Personally, and based from this area, since 2008 I have been active via the BuioMetria Partecipativa project. This has happened in collaboration with other experts, but I am currently representing the "hub". In parallel to this, we have been scanning the surrounding region, as well as parts of Italy, getting to know other activists and experts. Since 2013 we also have collaborations at the European level, and not only.

What are the initial questions?

Starting from a baseline of monitoring activities conducted in 2008-2018, the initial question is to check who will be interested in conducting a new wave of surveys starting from Summer 2022. If you are interested in participating for the Southern Tuscan site, or to replicate these activities in your location, please write to

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