Nachtlicht-BüHNE: Citizen-Helmholtz Network for the Investigation of Night Light Phenomena

Funding by: Helmholtz Gemeinschaft Impuls- und Vernetzungsfond – Säule „Innovation“ Pilotprojekte “CitizenScience@Helmholtz”
Funding ID: CS-0003
project executing: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., Institut für Datenwissenschaften , Jena
Funding period: 01.07.2019-30.06.2022
project partners:  Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ) I Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. I Institut für Datenwissenschaften und Institut für Planetenforschung, Berlin I TU Berlin  I Kooperation mit dem Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ) I Citizen Scientist co-design team

The project aims to demonstrate that co-designed citizen science projects work within the framework of the research done at the Helmholtz Association, and develop tools and methods of working to support future similar research within the Helmholtz Association. As such, the project involves citizen scientists in all phases of the research project, from conception to planning to execution and publication. Sign up

Within the project, we are developing two apps that allow citizen scientists to submit data. Both apps are related to lights at night. The app coordinated by GFZ examines light emissions, and the app coordinated by DLR examines fireballs (bright meteors).


Satellite images of the earth at night show a worldwide increase in light pollution, including in Germany. However, detailed information about types of lights responsible for light emissions (or their changes) are generally not available. We are developing an app that will enable us to map artificial light sources along roads, including everything from illuminated windows to advertising signs and streetlights.


We are investigating the relationships between the light emissions observed by satellites and the type and spatial distribution of artificial light sources on the ground. Together with our citizen scientists, we aim to document and understand the causes of light emissions and to increase public awareness of the problem of light pollution and the value of sustainable lighting.


Bright meteors, popularly called "shooting stars" or, in the case of larger bodies, "fireballs", are of great scientific interest. From their light curves and trajectories, properties of the bodies they originate from can be deduced. As it is not possible to monitor the sky with cameras without interruption, fireball reports from eyewitnesses are of great value.

Together with our citizen scientists, we are developing an app to report the sighting of fireballs and start campaigns in case of expected occurrence of shooting stars.


We characterise meteor populations, and support the finding and recovery of meteorites.

We strengthen the exchange and interest in nocturnal celestial phenomena and address light pollution.

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