The STARLIGHT Spring School

The STARLIGHT Spring School was held in Pragelato, Italy, from 15th to 19th April 2024

The second School of the STARLIGHT project was held in Pragelato, Italy, from 15th to 19th April 2024. During the week, the fourteen STARLIGHT participants, hosted by the two Italian partners of the project, i.e. GAL EVV and INAF, not only learned about experiential tourism and territorial marketing, but they also put into practice their theoretical knowledge through the creation of an Experience Box.

Indeed, after discovering the village of Pragelato and its surroundings, e.g. Usseaux, Pomaretto, and Fenestrelle, the STARLIGHT participants had the chance to meet with experts and local stakeholders in order to develop an Experience Box consisting of three tour packages specifically designed for the territory of the Chisone Valley.

In particular, the STARLIGHT participants, divided into three groups, created three tourism experiences deeply linked to the territory, namely In Search of the Dahu, a scavenger hunt through the streets of Pragelato and the towns nearby, Night & Natura, a guided hike to Pian dell’Alpe to rediscover our sense of belonging to nature through local myths and legends, and Daherbs, a guided walk in search of the wild edible herbs of the valley with a final stargazing session.

In the true spirit of the Erasmus+ STARLIGHT project, the three experience packages of the Dahu-themed Experience Box are not only meant to enhance the local territory, history, and legends, but also to attract tourists and to allow them to reconnect with nature, away from the chaos and the light pollution of the city.

On the last day of the STARLIGHT Spring School, the participants also had the chance to present their Experience Box at the final multiplier event, hosted by Confcooperative Piemonte and with the participation of  Turismo Torino e Provincia, Infini.to – Planetarium of Turin, Museum of Astronomy and Space, and CTC Turismo Cooperativo. On this occasion, all of the materials designed by the STARLIGHT participants during the week, from reels to videos and playlists, were shown to the local stakeholders as part of the presentation of their experience packages.

The STARLIGHT Spring School_Press Release

STARLIGHT Summer school in Razlog

Traveling for a Passion and Finding a Universe of Friends (Michele Di Francesco, Starlight participant)

From 25th to 29th of September the first Summer school within the Starlight project took place in Razlog, Bulgaria.
The summer school was hosted by the National Business Development Network which is the Bulgarian partner in the project. 14 participants from Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy and Spain took part in the school. During the 5 days of the school the participants learned about entrepreneurship, customer care and the possibilities for development of Astrotourism in Bulgaria and Europe as a whole with the aim of supporting them to build their own career.

The school participants and the Starlight mentors together after defining the team groups

The participants were divided into 3 teams and each team had to develop its own business model of embedding dark skies observations for tourism purposes. Experienced tutors from the University of Economics Varna, the Astronomy Institute to the Bulgarian Academy of science and the National Astronomy Observatory in Rozhen helped them along the way.
On the 28th of September a Multiplier event was held in Razlog, at which the Starlight project was presented to different stakeholders and where the 3 teams presented their business models.

Starlight participants are working hard on their business models!
Wainting for stargazing activity at night
More night activities…. related to local culture!

Travel to the stars: Astrotourism

European group of experts visits the German Rhön star park

You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel to the stars, because star parks all over the world invite you to visit the stars and offer a nocturnal natural phenomenon that can be experienced particularly beautifully in the Rhön. Reason enough for a group of experts of the European project STARLIGHT to visit the Rhön within the framework of a professional excursion from August 28 – 30, 2023 and to exchange ideas with local experts. Central questions: How can stargazing be better used as a tourist trend to draw attention to the consequences of light pollution on the environment and biodiversity? What new career opportunities arise from astrotourism?

The starry sky has fascinated and influenced mankind throughout the ages, but in many urban regions this experience of nature is hardly possible anymore. Nocturnal light sources such as streetlights, building lighting, spotlights and billboards not only deny a view of the celestial bodies, but also have a negative impact on animals, plants and human health. Therefore, in order to experience a starry sky in all its glory, more and more people are visiting places that provide an unobstructed view of the celestial bodies and the Milky Way. Astrotourism is in the process of establishing itself as a trendy tourist topic. 

The European STARLIGHT team with Rhön Tourism Manager Silvia Hillenbrand (third from right)

STARLIGHT aims to raise awareness of the night sky

The European STARLIGHT project is dedicated to raising awareness about light pollution and providing information about the beauty of the night sky. In STARLIGHT, 92 thematically structured training units have been developed to qualify those interested in stargazing to develop tourist offers. This also includes qualification for astronomical guided tours and respectful interaction with nature. “The STARLIGHT program combines science-based education about the effects of light pollution with the acquisition of skills for tourist offers in the trendy topic of astrotourism,” says project manager Dr. Karin Drda-Kühn. She is the managing director of the non-profit institution “Kultur und Arbeit e.V.”, which was the only German partner to invite the European consortium to the Rhön. “There are already experiences in the Rhön that are exemplary throughout Europe,” says Drda-Kühn. In the exchange with tourism expert Silvia Hillenbrand from Rhön Tourism, the focus was on strategies in star tourism, target groups for tourism offers and the involvement of locals.  Star Park coordinator Sabine Frank inspired the European team of experts with a storybook tour of information and empathetic persuasion for the topic.

Attractive product presentation in the tourist info in Wildflecken-Oberbach
Pleasant meeting of the STARLIGHT team in the “Sonnentau” – hotel in Fladungen

The First Webinar of the STARLIGHT Project

On 4th April 2023 the first webinar of the STARLIGHT project was held.

During the three-hour video conference, a team of international professionals discussed multiple topics related to light pollution, dark skies, and audience engagement.

Firstly, after Greti Manfreda (RDA)’s brief presentation of the agendas of the STARLIGHT webinars, Stefanie Suchy (TyEO) illustrated the importance of the nighttime from a scientific, philosophical, and cultural point of view, as well as the causes and effects of ALAN, i.e. artificial light at night.

Secondly, Sandra Jiménez (FCL) broadened the topic from a biological point of view. Indeed, she focused on the importance of the day-night cycle for different species and the effects of changes in the biorhythms of both animals and human beings due to artificial lighting.

Thirdly, Daniele Gardiol (INAF) showed, by means of the Stellarium software, how to plan a naked-eye observation of the night sky according to space and time constraints, the horizon, and the seasonality of constellations. Furthermore, he highlighted how the storytelling of myths and legends through stargazing can be the perfect medium to engage the audience.

Finally, Enrico Di Nola (INAF) provided a thorough analysis of the theory and practice of storytelling. By providing accurate definitions and examples across multiple media, such as literature, cinema and politics, he demonstrated the innate curiosity of human beings for stories. Moreover, he drew a clear distinction between telling a story and building an effective narrative in order to enable communication through narration.

The first STARLIGHT webinar ended with a group workshop activity and Carlos Fernández Martínez (FCL)’s presentation of the Picos de Europa National Park in Spain, where one of the three schools of the STARLIGHT project will be held.

STARLIGHT Participants Selected!

The participants of the STARLIGHT project have been officially selected.

The group consists of 60 people from all over Europe. Among the participants we can count 30 Italians, 8 Austrians, 8 Bulgarians, 7 Germans, 4 Spaniards, 1 Belgian, 1 Hungarian, and 1 Slovenian.

The members of this multicultural group are students and experienced tourism professionals, who will be able to increase their knowledge and acquire new competences in the field of Astrotourism thanks to the STARLIGHT Toolkit, but not only. Indeed, our educational Webinars will begin soon.

In particular, we will start on 4th April 2023 with the first webinar that will focus on the following topics: scientific popularisation on astronomy and biodiversity, light pollution and dark skies, environment and nightlife, astronomy and stargazing, and audience engagement through storytelling.

Then, on 8th May 2023, the second webinar will address the topic of experiential tourism and some case studies will be both presented and analysed. Finally, on 22nd May 2023, the third and final webinar will cover the topics of entrepreneurship and territorial and digital marketing.

During each webinar, one of the three Schools will be presented in order to start discussing with the participants their future field experience in Bansko, Luserna San Giovanni or the Picos de Europa National Park. Indeed, over the next year and a half, all of our 60 participants will be given the opportunity to participate in a 5-day stay in Bulgaria, Italy or Spain with a view to further enriching their knowledge and putting it into practice.

The call for participants is open

Registrations for the STARLIGHT project are open. The call, which will close on December 1st January 8th 2023, represents a new training and growth opportunity for young people and professionals interested in the topics of dark skies observation, sustainable tourism, biodiversity and light pollution impact.

STARLIGHT will involve 60 participants to learn scientific notions on astronomy, biodiversity, history and culture, light pollution. They will be then trained to create an innovative business, build experience boxes to be offered to tourists and finally learn how to tell the story of our skies and transform this into a job opportunity.

The course consists of 3 activities, including self-study, webinars and training at residential schools, with enriching exchange with local economic operators and tourism policy makers. The expenses for participation to Residential Schools, such as travel, accommodation, meals and activities, will be covered by the project.

The partnership covers six European countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Spain), which guarantees participants an interdisciplinary experience and a well-balanced training offer.

The available positions are open for two target groups:

  • Young Europeans under 35 years old interested in dark skies, biodiversity and sustainable tourism.  
  • Active touristic operators in one of the following economic sectors: accommodation, gastronomy, travel and tours, destination management and building and experience making.

The call is available at the following link:

CV and motivation letter should be sent no later than 01/12/2022 08/01/2023 to the following e-mail address: starlight.erasmus@gmail.com