BSDBMP – ep. 4- Close encounters of some kind

[what happened: after launching a project considered with “no commercial potential”, but a source of entertainment, and having dedicated the month of July 2008 to prepare a web site together with their friend Luca, Andrea and Francesco are about to start their first “darkometric” campaign]

Various things happened in August 2008. Among others, driving along State Road 1, Aurelia, between Grosseto and Civitavecchia, with Francesco we started considering the idea of a fixed station monitoring network. During the Winter between 2010 and 2011 this idea became the Italian coordination for the collection of data on light pollution, in collaboration with Veneto Stellato.

The facto of having a monitoring network is not per se innovative, if you are in a context of environmental professionals (Francesco and I are environmental engineers), but it was interesting to see that, just six months after the beginning of the project we were already considering this type of infrastructure.

In the meantime, we boarded a ferry, reached Sardinia, slept in Sassari, interviewing Daniele, aka Gavino, on the possibility of being involved in the execution of night sky quality measures. He said: “let me think about it…”

The morning after, we drove to Cagliari, where on the Poetto beach we re-proposed a local version of our Ribolla conference on culture, environment, and open informatics:

I remember that day as a hyperkinetic one: after the bar at the Poetto beach I recall a lunch in the Marina neighbourhood in Cagliari, followed by the trip to Arbus/Guspini.

After an introductory meeting with local authorities in the area of environmental education (which turned out to be surely educated, but not really interested to our project), we were directed to the agriturismo Arcuento, at the foot of the Arcuento Mountain. The plan was for us to have a light dinner there, before reaching the top of the mountain.

I proposed making the first measurement in Sardinia on the summit of Mount Arcuentu, because I had an imprinting of it since the first time I saw it, driving in Sardinia in the Winter of 1994 (or 1995 ?).

In practice, Mount Arcuentu is like the mountain in “Close encounters of the third kind”.

The difference is that, instead of UFOs, you may find a hermit’s shelter, and a path which is marked for the Easter procession.

Our plan was laid out in the best way: after the meal at the agriturismo, we would have been escorted with some means of transportation (a tractor, or some four-wheel drive thing), so as to get very close to the summit. Then, we would have been walking for the last 100 meters or so, camping on the summit and taking our night sky measure.

Things didn’t exactly work out that way. Since we were slightly late, the owners of the agriturismo gave us food and beverage (paying a fair price), but they didn’t escort us on the mountain.

So, we walked, in the dark. I had already been once on top of Mount Arcuento, in 2000, but I wouldn’t say I qualify as a professional guide for this site. Anyhow: getting lost a couple of times, and sweating a lot (we recorded 21°C at 800 m above sea level in the middle of the night), we made it to the top. We actually have a video of all this story:

The morning after, we came down from the mountain, and were invited for lunch by my friend Marino, and eventually made our way back to the plain. I flew back to “the continent”, and left for an important trip to Belgium. However, halfway through this trip (I had reached Belgium) I had to return immediately to Italy, due to the passing away of a close relation. This was uncle Augusto. In 2006-2007 Augusto had a key role in triggering stories which eventually had a key role in triggering the BuioMetria Partecipativa story. If the month started in the brightest way, it ended in the gloomiest.

-4- to be continued