Yesterday evening on Grazie Beach in Portovenere (SP) the fourth phase of the travel project “A sea of stars” took place. – From microscopic to infinitely large. The joint science initiative, sponsored by the Percorsi nel Blu project of the ISA2 Institute of La Spezia – Portovenere, the Spezini Association of Amateur Astronomers and the Lunae Astronomical Society, was attended by about a hundred citizens, students and families united by a passion for biology and astronomy. The Science Spreading event is part of a long-term touring project examining the wonders of marine and celestial life-form discovery, focusing on the importance of being able to create stimulating opportunities for participatory science and directing the public’s attention to a more informed observation of nature.
Baia delle Grazie in Portovenere (SP), a coastal town in the UNESCO heritage buffer zone, was chosen as the backdrop for the fourth date with its starry sky wonders and marine life forms. Participants will be accompanied on the journey from microscope to infinity of infinity by staff of the Percorsi nel Blu project, directed by Erika Meoni, biologist and lecturer at ISA2, and Luigi Sannino, chief amateur astronomer at Spezzini.
Climate change, with consequences associated with a rise in water temperature and the distribution of alien species, has been the leitmotif of the proposed biological observations. In fact, inspired by the surroundings, the Persource Nile Blue crew accompanied the participants in discovering those unknown marine species that usually live in artificial submerged structures, in man-made coastal environments. Then, the use of digital field microscopes, stereomicroscopes and light microscopes allowed the morphological observation of some temperature-sensitive marine species, protagonists of native species in the process of bioconstruction (dendritic algae and coralline algae), in contrast to other alien species that, permanently present in the bay, play a role major in specific associations with other non-native species.
Trails in blue
The discussion with the participants became an opportunity to publish the results obtained from the research plan of the citizen science project Percorsi nel Blu (“Fantastic Beasts and where to find them”) which in the past led to the identification of two strange species in the bay, which Mioni mentions as the first record of the Italian coasts (Favorinus ghanensis, 2020) and for the Ligurian Sea (Polycerella emertoni, 2021) and then described them in an article published in the academic journal Diversity, Special Issue Systematic and Evolution of Gastropods, in 2022.
The journey of discovery of the starry sky was accompanied by the operators of the Astronomers’ Association Spezzini, the regional delegation of the Italian Astronomers Union (UAI) for La Spezia and Val di Vara, who allowed the public to orient themselves among the stars, in search of constellations in the infinitely large vastness of space and to be able to enjoy the initiative “Spring Sky”, entirely dedicated to observing the spring skies close to the vernal equinox (March 20), and creating a mini Messier marathon both visually and digitally. For obvious reasons of general illumination, the visible objects were the brightest, such as the Orion Nebula, various galaxies and globular clusters.
Thanks to the four powerful telescopes deployed and the large screens connected to the instruments, the audience had a wide range of observations. The Guinness World Records logo related to the asteroid Palmaria, which is under the permanent patronage of the Municipality of Portovenere, was also displayed within the event.
Nicola Michaeli Gallery
On the occasion of this event, the Cantiere della Memoria exceptionally opened the visit of the exhibition of graphic works by Nicola Micheli, which pays homage to divers of all times, allowing the public to immerse themselves in a fascinating journey of discovery of the abyss.
In view of the success of the initiative, the organizers sincerely thank the Municipality of La Spezia, the Municipality of Portovenere, WEEC Network Italia, Pianeta Azzurro (media partner) and the Consulate of the Dominican Republic in Genoa for their sponsorship and logistical and informational support. We also thank the institutions and associations in the region, associated with the Percorsi nel Blu project: Società Astronomica Lunae of Sarzana, Ass. Blue Life, Ass. Italian Anti-Oncology Association – La Spezia Headquarters, Ass. Fathers and Mothers, the Dominican Sports Association of La Spezia, the Linguistic High School Mazzini and Cappellini – Sauro Institute, the Italian Alpine Club – CAI of La Spezia, the association “Friends of the Island of Tino” and “Life on the Sea” – the Civil Protection.
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