Archivi categoria: BSDBMP_ENG

BSDBMP – ep. 10 – Things are summing up

If the Winter proved to be somewhat slow, Spring started to see various flowers blooming. The progression might get a little hectic, but if you have been following this blog in the past you should know things can get that pace at times.

At the beginning of April Francesco made the trip to Civitanova Marche, opening his lesson with something sounding like a standing ovation at the Academy Awards. The experiment described in the video “Let’s light up the stars” was taken up by the author of a book for children. I managed to finish the editing of the video of the mission to Sardinia from the previous August…but, most of all: we won!

We were contacted by the Municipality of Laives, in Alto Adige/South Tyrol. They informed us that we had been selected for one of the “passion awards” for the Seconda Luna contest.
The picture show us, the two youn environmental engineers, during the award ceremony.

Somewhat, it seemed that the jury was bewildered by our application: I recall there were something like 925 people participating, from all over Italy, running for five prizes. However, for our project the organizers created an ad hoc category, initially not existing in the regulation: the prize for the “passion on science and technology”.
In a way, they were telling us that our project was interesting enough to deserve recognition, but they could not place it together with the other 924 passions (which included very diverse things, such as wind bottlers, farmers growing grapes upside down, and people who were going on foot along all of the Italian coastline).
Last, but not least, they gave us 2000 Euro, which we decided to invest in the continuation of the project.
You could easily say that I am biased, but, if the project we proposed would have felt like any project, why create a different category for it?

Summing it all up, we were getting very different responses to the solicitations we were sending…things were rolling.

[marzo-aprile 2009]


In February 2009 I was at the Djbouti harbour, to close an international deal related to the negotiations between the FPKZ and the NOD ravassists, as the picture undoubtedly portrays.

No…I was in Cagliari, in my second homeland, Sardinia, for an annual meeting on free geographic software…that stuff with a lot of colours maps in presentations, and a lot of emphasis on changing the world.
In the meantime, we were on the phone, as we do in these days.

It would have been a cozy month for the project, hadn’t we learned in the meantime of a call for a prize calle “La Seconda Luna” (the second moon). There was a substantial amount of money to be awarded, apparently for people like us…they were looking for guys with a passion to be exposed, and the will to tell their story about it.

BSDBMP – ep. 8 – The International Year of Astronomy

2009 AD, also remembered by some as the international year of astronomy,
opened with a nice surprise for the project.
On January 13, exactly four years ago, the BuioMetria Partecipativa initiative appeared for the first time on the press. No less that the italian edition of the Mickey Mouse magazine, and no less than with a special report on “the darkness hunters”…Francesco stands out as a real star the story.
If you read the magazine, after the report there was also a story completely “in the dark” (all the comic strips are black except for the dialogue baloons). However I don recall if there was some relation to our initiative.

Since once piece of news easily generates another one, the story of “the darkness hunter” was then covered just a few days afters by the Corriere Fiorentino (the Florence edition of Corriere della Sera, one of the main national newspapers).

Apart from the pride of seeing us on the press (in a positive piece of news, and on the same page with Alessandro Gassman, a famous Italian actor), we didn’t really know what to think of potential reactions by the readers…anyway: it worked: a few days after the Mickey Mouse issue, we were contacted by Paola, a primary school teacher in the Marche region. She was interested in some input by us on light pollution. This was the trigger for us to start thinking to a new type of audience: kids.
Until that moment, we hadn’t been really thinking of an audience: the sky quality meter had been passed to a friend who took measurements walking the dog, and similar cases…now we were getting ready to face the masses

[Gennaio 2009]

BSDBMP – ep. 7 – Animated education and wannabe imitators

As in all darkometric winters, you get more cloudy nights and a lower probability of taking measures. So you come up with other interesting things to do, while you wait for the clear weather.

During the Winter of 2008 Francesco produced a cute educational video calle “Let’s light up the stars”.

For this production, I didn’t do anything but bug him on the need to change all the soundtrack of the first version replacing the music he used with Creative Commons tracks.

The video was quite appreciated by experts and light pollution interest groups. We still use it in our meetings and presentations, as it is always effective.

Some time after the video was launched (January 2009) we found on the web another video about light pollution and stars.
Maybe this was produced independently from ours, but we tend to think that there was some form of inspiration taken from Francesco’s work.
So…what do you do…it would have been nice to see applied the terms of the Creative Common licence (which are also available in plain Italian). But maybe we were asking too much. At least an e-mail to let us know. Point is that sometimes communication just works one way, no matter how much energy you put in establishing a two-way dialogue.

BSDBMP – ep. 6 – Tortelli and clouds

We started October 2008 in a peculiar state of high energy.

We were riding the mounting wave of fusion -or, according to some, confusion- between culture, environment and free/open information which we launched in Ribolla three months earlier.

We felt ready for (almost) anything in the quest for synergies, liaisons, and pieces of string.

Anything which could resemble a sensible thread, or at least, a thread more sensible that then one exposed in Ribolla. If we were crazy, we were trying to get wiser. Climbing unknown mountain paths at night was no longer an option.

To help in our guided path towards a meaning, Claudia and Federico at L’Altro lato, the national radio show which “launched” us in coincidence with the Ribolla event, invited us as main guests in another episode of their show.

This was our first opportunity to enter the gates in Corso Sempione 20 [note: the RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana offices in Milano] for our live show. This was not my first live radio experience (I had other occasions back in 2005, finding myself rather at home).

The one issue was that neither of us was in the brightest shape, for different family reasons. During one of the breaks, while Federico was interviewing other guests over the phone, Claudia told us, with her bolognese accent: “C’mon guys! remember that Radio Due is an entertainment radio…a little more energy, please!“.

At the end of the day, the pace of the show was a little affected by our conditions…no slapstick comedy…but we eventually had other opportunities to recover our entertainment side.

Talking about synergies, we spotted a cool opportunity for October 25, 2008. For that date we observed an interesting “astronomilca conjunction”. In fact, the calendar showed both the Linux Day (a national event on free/open information, which was easy for me because the year before I was following this with my hat),and a “national” day against light pollution.

We contacted the organizers of both events, and it turned out that we could have a talk at the Linux Day in Grosseto [Note: the main city close to our operations back then]. We proposed a talk called “M(‘)appare la Maremma”, recalling something like the M(‘)appare Milano from Spring 2008. Furthermore, Francesco would have had space to talk about BuioMetria Partecipativa, and this presentation would have been “under the auspices of” the “national” day against light pollution.

In parallel to the preparation of the talk, we spent a non-neglectable amount of evenings before the event to plan a rural route in the Grosseto surroundings, in order to take some measurements.

We had expressions of interest by around five locations, including some farms and some friends of friends. These locations were ranging from Campagnatico, to Magliano and some other place further South. I don’t have this very fresh, but I remember using a printout from the Regione Toscana mapping service to jot down the planned points with a red pen.

The plan was looking great: the presentation around 5PM, some aperitivo to follow, and then off, to take as many measures as we could!

The presentation went fairly well. I would say meeting my expectations for a Linux Day. Maybe an element which may be easily improved in “grassroots events on innovative things related to very high causes” is that there should be LESS presentations, so that the a general audience may be more focused on less things. When I will decide to organize my own Linux Day, I will try to do something about this.

Also, when I will decide to organize a daily event with some relation to light pollution, I think I will keep in due consideration the other event with which, naively, we tried to collaborate. Let’s say that, as a minimum, we will first ask what our counterparts

mean by “under the auspices of” some organization. But this is another story and we will get back on this in some ten episodes!

After the talk, we came to our aperitivo: Francesco, a friend of Francesco’s joined us, together with a young farmer by the name of Alessandro, who came down from the hills to follow our talk.

Following Murphy’s Law, in the meantime, together with Alessandro and Francesco we had clouds coming as well.

This was to become one of the standard of various events to follow: with cloud cover, it is impossible to collect night sky quality data. This is what they told us, back then. Then, about a year ago, a Canadian-German guy wrote a scientific paper showing that it is very intersting to collect measurements ALSO with clouds, because these “amplify” the effect of light direct upwards, but -back then- we weren’t quite aware of the issue.

As we were approaching the end of our aperitivo, we had to take a so called “business decision”: to “go” or to “no go” with our measurement tour, considering the cloud cover ? Would the wind blow them away, together with the answer by Bob Dylan, my friend, or would they stay and lead to the cancellation of the field trip ?

We needed a secound round of drinks to consider the options, and we went for the conservative one: we cancelled the tour. One of the reasons was that this would have required at least 100 km of travel, and driving the whole night to see how nice clouds are was not a need for the project.

We then decided that we deserved some consolation, after the cancellation, so we aimed a renown agriturismo for dinner, half way between Grosseto and the sea. And cosolation we had: very substantial quantities, and very notable quality (this is said by someone who has very frequent opportunities of tasting very good Tuscan cuisine).

After the dinner, Francesco headed North, back home, and I drove towards Scansano, where I was to spend the night.
Just after the bridg on the Ombrone river, as the road started winding up towards the hills now famous for the Morellino wine, an e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y c-l-e-a-r sky was confronting me.

The clouds had vanished, or the were just never on that side of the province. Had we decided to exit Grosseto heading East instead of West, would we have seen a different story ?

So I managed to take a series of measurements, along a track which is more or less in area marked in yellow.

The day after the event, I found myself to be part of the “olive picking” ritual, with a tribe of hunters-gatherers from the Albegna Valley. In the next picture, you can see one of the members of the tribe at work:

BSDBMP – ep. 5 – astro[philes|nomers|logists] …and we are not from Rome(*)

[NOTE FOR ENGLISH READERS: the translation of this article’s title into English is not immediate…I will be glad to explain the part about Rome if we will meet]

As the Summer was gradually fading, we had started to collect our own “buiometric” measures.

In the meantime, our quest for contacts to trigger the participatory component of the story was active. The interview with RAI Radio Due back in June had been an exciting moment, but it didn’t yield all that much promotion…maybe because it occurred too early, or maybe because it was on a Saturday morning…who knows!

With Francesco we were elaborating on how to get in touch with various communities (which you may call “community” also in Italy, if you like calling it that way) which were known to be more or less active in the mitigation of light pollution (or in the “fight for dark skies”, if you like calling it that way).

Francesco is also partly an astrophile, a stargazer, he swings by star parties…so: he knew that environment before. Just like, from before I knew other environments, like the free/open software environment or the palla 21/palla eh! environment.

So, following our inspiration, we kept trying to propose our project. The peculiarity with stargazers is that, since they are “star lovers”, they would sound in principle one of the communities which should be most interested to the BuioMetria Partecipativa.

With the stargazers to which I sent the letter below we are actually collaborating today: we are in touch once a week, and we are considering future collaborations.

With other associations we were less lucky…and not just stargazer associations. At the end of the day, my overall view of the relationship between the BuioMetria Partecipativa and the non-profit world is positive. However, we did get into a couple of major misunderstandings. Some of these have been clarified, some of others are in the “clarification queue”. We are working on it!
Buongiorno …-

thanks for the quick call

as I was saying, our interest in contacting you comes from a series of activities
that we are managing for some years now, and that starting from 2008
has generated an activity concerning the execution of [night] sky quality
with an extremely grassroots approach (see link [1])

between April and August we took various measures.
Since we [Francesco and myself] are both environmental engineers
we have also been thinking about measurement protocols, monitoring optimization,
and other aspects of the activity.

at the same time, the team with which we collaborate is configured
more like a cultural association, with an awareness on
general themes related to our territory and our environment.
we do not yet have a formal strucutre.
but in early June we organized a conference to explain a little of our idea [3].

we have, anyway, good links with various local communities in the XXX province, we
have received attention by various local bodies. We also had
support of a national association dealing with this [4]

In parallel we are looking for contacts with other contexts, hence the call you

as said: it should be interesting to meet in order to better present our activities,
and then we’ll see what happens

around Oct. 4 I will surely be in your area, for the assignment of the prize for a
photographic contest that we promoted during the Summer [2], so this may
be a good excuse for a coffee.

In particular, it will be interesting for us to check if any of you are interested
to collaborate by collecting a couple of SQM measures during the night of Oct 25.

We have two instruments and are organizing the “inner Maremma” activities

I thank you for your attention and a I will be looking forward to your feedback

Andrea Giacomelli, aka pibinko – –             3XX-XXX XXXX – idee e progetti – notizie e curiosità [NOTA: SITO NON PIU’ ATTIVO]

[4] e soprattutto per un’introduzione video