Dr. Christopher Kyba has been awarded the Citizen Science Research Award from the "Bürger schaffen Wissen” platform for his research into light pollution. With the help of more than 50,000 observations by citizen scientists worldwide, the researcher was able to find out how light pollution influenced human perception of stars from 2011 to 2022.
Christopher Kyba’s studies changes in light emission using several different methods. Some of his work has involved satellites, but the problem with observations taken from above is that they aren’t able to view the light that travels sideways (e.g. from windows). However, this light contributes the most to the brightening of the sky. For that reason, Kyba turned to the human eye as a sensor.
As part of the "Globe at Night" project coordinated by NOIRLab in the USA, scientists showed participants a set of star maps via a web application from 2011 to 2022. Participants were then asked which one best matches the night sky at their location.
Christopher Kyba was able to find out that the visibility of stars is deteriorating rapidly, despite (or because of) the introduction of LEDs in outdoor lighting applications since the 2010s. The observations from the citizen scientists are therefore an excellent complement to the satellite data, which suggests a much slower rate of growth for upward directed light.
The jury of "Wissen der Vielen – Forschungspreis für Citizen Science“ selected his publication in Science for first place. When making its selection, the jury paid particular attention to the technical quality and added value of citizen science for research.
The "Research Prize for Citizen Science" is intended to give citizen science greater recognition in the scientific system and strengthen the importance of participatory research in the scientific community. Christopher Kyba will receive prize money of 20,000 euros to further expand his citizen science activities.
Kyba is continuing his research on light pollution in the "Interdisciplinary Geoinformation Sciences" department at Ruhr University Bochum with citizen participation. He conducted research at the GFZ for many years and is still associated with the GFZ via Section 1.4 │Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics.
About the platform "Bürger schaffen Wissen"
"Bürger schaffen Wissen" is the central platform for citizen science in Germany. There are many projects to participate in here. "Bürger schaffen Wissen" aims to further develop citizen science in Germany, to make it better known and to provide information about projects to participate in. The platform presents, connects and supports citizen science projects.