Star Count 2019 – a new initiative launched by the countryside charity Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) – is inviting England dwellers to take part in a cosmic census that will help to map the dark skies.
The nationwide Star Count, which is also supported by the British Astronomical Association, will be running from now until Saturday 23 February. Stargazers, whether in town or countryside, will be asked to count the number of stars they can see (with the naked eye) within the constellation of Orion, which is only visible in the winter months.
In addition to promoting dark skies and engaging people in the wonders of stargazing, CPRE also aims to highlight the blight that light pollution, an issue often overlooked, is causing on the dark skies, and its subsequent impact on people and nature.
CPRE’s Night Blight maps, based on satellite data, showed that just 22% of England is untouched by light pollution, and that more than half of the darkest skies are over National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Not only does light pollution prevent people from enjoying the beauty of a starry sky, it can seriously disrupt wildlife behaviour and affect people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Emma Marrington, dark skies campaigner at CPRE, said: “A dark sky filled with stars is one of the most magical sights our countryside has to offer, and for thousands of years our night sky has been a source of information, fascination and inspiration for all of humanity. Increasingly, however, too many people are denied the opportunity to experience this truly natural wonder.
“We want as many people as possible, from right across the country, to get out and get involved with Star Count 2019. How many stars you will see ultimately depends upon the level of light pollution in your area, but by counting stars and helping us to map our dark skies, together we can fight back against light pollution and reclaim the night sky.”
As lighting in the UK undergoes the sweeping change to LEDs, the British Astronomical Association Commission said the information gathered from the cosmic census will help to determine whether or not LEDs help to counter the light pollution.
CPRE will use the results from Star Count 2019 to create a new map to show how light pollution is affecting the nation’s views of the night sky.
Through the Star Count, CPRE will be able to provide more detailed and up-to-date information on the impact that light pollution is having on people’s experience of dark skies. Using this information CPRE will work with local and national Government to ensure that appropriate lighting is used only where it’s needed – helping to reduce carbon emissions, save money, and protect and enhance the dark skies.
For more information on how to take part in Star Count 2019, visit the CPRE website
Image: © Matthew Savage
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. I write about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and I offer content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at Rosamedea.com or find me on Twitter: @rosamedea