Pathway to the Stars competition 2016 - STARS4ALL for young European students

The international Space Station (ISS) flying over the Iberian Peninsula. The light pollution from the city of Madrid is prominent. STARS4ALL aims at arousing the conscience of society about the problem of light pollution, and at defending dark skies over
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Light pollution is now a real problem. Some of its effects influence us directly such as the threat to biodiversity, physiological changes due to lack of rest, and problems in making astronomical observations. Present-day society has no alternative but to switch off unnecessary lighting and to adapt the required lighting in order to develop normally. For this purpose, the European project STARS4ALL  is aimed at drawing attention to the “blindness” which light pollution is producing, and to encourage young people to protect the sky we inherited from our ancestors. 

STARS4ALL and the veteran project Pathway to the Stars unite in their effort to promote scientific vocations, and to defend the Universal Right to Dark Skies, by offering a course which gives European students the opportunity to participate in astronomical experiences, tutored by researchers in astrophysics.

The participants in the competition will have to use the application Lost at Night to localize correctly night-time images of distant cities taken from the International Space Staion (ISS), which are a very valuable source of information about lighting. We have all enjoyed the spectacular pictures of geographical features, atmospheric phenomena, and cities taken from space. What began as a game to while away the astronauts’ time has ended up as an excellent data bank. The cameras of the ISS also give the best clues to check the identity of these “murderers of the night sky”.

The winners of this STARS4ALL contest will join the Pathway to the Stars project. The novel project “Pathway to the Stars 2016-STARS4ALL” (RES2016) has, as its main objectives:

  1. To arouse the passion for knowledge and to develop personal and enterprise techniques.
  2. To strengthen respect for the natural environment in fragile ecosystems of the planet by preserving and defending the natural darkness of night-time landscapes.

Anyone born in 1995/1996 who is studying in the European Union in the academic year 2015-2016 can sign up and participate in the contest (see details). The winners will participate in several astronomical experiences:

The first will be at the Teide Observatory of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), where they will be shown research projects in progress, guided by professional astronomers. From the Observatory, the young researchers will understand the need for clean skies, protected by law, and free from light pollution, in order to observer the universe.

In the second experience, the winning students will join the astronomical expedition Shelios 2016 whose main aim is to observe and to broadcast live (on the web portal the Aurora Borealis form the Arctic (Iceland and Greenland) in the last week of August.

Miquel Serra-Ricart, an astronomer at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), who is in charge of the project RES2016, comments “Since 2004, with the project Pathway to the Stars we have, with the help of the sky, promoted scientific vocation in over a hundred students. With STARS4ALL, the project will be amplified to cover the whole of Europe, which introduces a new concept in the students’ learning process: the right to starlight, and the defence of dark skies free of light pollution”.

STARS4 ALL ( is a project funded by the H2020 Programme of the European Union, under contract number 688135. There are 8 institutions collaborating in STAR4ALL (UPM, CEFRIEL, SOTON, ECN, ESCP Europe, IAC, IGB-Berlin and UCM) in 6 European countries. The objective of STAR4ALL is to stimulate the conscience of the population about the existence of light pollution in many of the places where we live, and about the importance of taking measures to reduce it.



Contact IAC: Miquel Serra-Ricart,  astronomer, mserra [at] (mserra[at]iac[dot]es), telephone: 0034 649848305.
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