Citizen Science to assess light pollution with cell phones

Press release


October 29, 2022

Top row: Three examples of light source localization using our algorithm. Bottom row: The area within the rectangle in the image above is cropped, and the circle in the lower right corner indicates the color assigned to each lamp. — astro-ph.IM

The analysis of the color of artificial lights at night impacts various fields, but current data sources have either limited resolution or limited availability of images for a specific region.

In this work, we propose crowdsourced photos of streetlights as an alternative data source: for this, we designed NightUp Castelldefels, a pilot for a citizen science experiment aimed at collecting data on the color of streetlights. In particular, we extract the color from the collected images and compare it to an official database, showing that it is possible to classify street lamps according to their color from photos taken by untrained citizens with their own smartphones.

We also compare our conclusions to the results obtained from one of the current sources for this type of study. The comparison highlights how the two approaches give complementary information about the artificial lights at night in the area. This work opens a new way in the study of the color of artificial lights at night with the possibility of an accurate, massive and cheap data collection.

Gorka Muñoz-Gil, Alexandre Dauphin, Federica A. Beduini, Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel

Subjects: Instrumentation and methods for astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2210.11140 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2210.11140v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this release)
Journal citation: Remote Sensing, 14(19), 4976
Related DOI:
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Submission history
By: Alejandro Sanchez de Miguel
[v1] Thu Oct 20 2022 10:08:15 AM UTC (15616 KB)

Co-founder of SpaceRef, member of the Explorers Club, ex-NASA, external teams, journalist, space and astrobiology, deceased climber.