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Star Count 2014 – Help restore serenity of dark skies across England

26 February 2014

 

Countryside campaigners CPRE, and the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies, in partnership with National Astronomy Week, are asking stargazers to count the number of stars they can see with the naked eye in the constellation of Orion any night between Wednesday 26 February – Saturday 8 March. Everyone who joins in will have the chance to win a fantastic telescope through which you can see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn [1].

 

Emma Marrington, CPRE Dark Skies Campaigner, said:

‘The Star Count survey can help us build a picture of how light pollution is affecting views of the night sky.

‘We’ll use the results that people submit to persuade Ministers and local councils to reduce light pollution. This will also help cut carbon emissions and save money through streetlight switch-off or dimming schemes and low energy lighting. If we’re to reclaim our wondrous night skies, we need all councils to take action.

‘Light pollution may not seem the most serious environmental threat, but it can ruin the countryside’s tranquil character, blur the distinction between town and country, affect wildlife and deny us the experience of a truly deep, dark and starry sky. We must act now to make a difference, and our Star Count really helps us gather the evidence we need.’

Robert Massey from National Astronomy Week said:

‘Too often our view of the night sky is compromised by the scourge of light pollution, so we're delighted to be supporting the CPRE Star Count and their campaign to tackle wasted light. In addition we have arranged more than 170 public events for our own National Astronomy Week and together, we really hope to show people how wonderful the night sky is.’

It’s easy to complete your Star Count; just spend a couple of minutes counting the stars you can see in the Orion constellation, on any evening between Wednesday 26 and Saturday 8 March. You can then report your count on CPRE’s website and enter the prize draw to win a Celestron AstroMaster telescope or some runners up will receive a copy of Paul Bogard’s star-gazing book ‘The End of Night’ [2].

Ends

[1] Win a telescope
The Celestron AstroMaster90EQ telescope (worth £205) produces bright, clear images of the moon and planets. It is easy to see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn with every one of these fine instruments. Generously supplied by David Hinds Ltd

[2]Runner up prizes: Stargazers’ Almanac 2013
10 runners-up will receive the book The End of Night by Paul Bogard about how artificial lights has blinded us to the mysterious beauty of the night sky, generously supplied by 4th Estate publishers.

CPRE is partnering with National Astronomy Week for Star Count 2014. More than 170 stargarzing events will be taking place around the country. See: www.astronomyweek.org.uk/?page_id=221

Three simple steps to taking part in Star Count:

  1. Locate the Orion constellation, which is in the south night sky. The main area of the constellation is bounded by four bright stars. Your count should not include the four corner stars – only those within the rectangular boundary – but do include the stars in the middle known as Orion’s three-star belt – see illustration at
  2. It is recommended that observations are made after 7pm so the sky is sufficiently dark. Try to do your count on a night when the sky is clear, with no haze or clouds.
  3. People should make a count of the number of stars seen with the naked eye (not with telescopes or binoculars) and then simply complete the online survey form: www.cpre.org.uk/starcount

    Dark, star-filled skies are an essential part of the character of rural England but last year, 54% of people who did our survey were able to spot fewer than ten stars, indicating severe light pollution across the country. Only 5% of people were able to see 30 or more stars, signifying truly dark skies. Have things improved in 2014? Become a citizen scientist and help us find out.

     

     


     

 

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