Star Count 2020 - CPRE, the countryside charity

Star Count 2020

A view of starry skies, with some flare from lights near the horizon, over the roof of houses
Eyes to the skies: each year we ask for 'citizen scientists' to look to the heavens and count stars to help us assess light pollution levels

From 21-28 February 2020, we’re again asking for your help in looking up at the heavens. Can you help us by counting stars to map our view of the night sky?

We think that dark and starry skies are a special part of our countryside. Nothing beats looking upwards to see velvety blackness, with twinkling constellations as far as the eye can see.

Artificial light leaks from our buildings and roads, though, and this can affect ou view of truly dark skies. We want to make sure that we can all enjoy starlit nights – and we need your help in measuring how what effect light is having on our views of the sky.

What is Star Count?

The best way to see how many stars we can all see in the sky is… to count them! So we’re asking people from all across the country to become ‘citizen scientists’. Join in by choosing a clear night between 21 and 28 February 2020 and counting the number of stars you can see within the constellation of Orion.

Once you’ve done your star-spotting, use this form to can quickly send us your count. Then we’ll get busy with our number-crunching.

A dark starry night sky with people silhouetted in the darkness in the foreground

Submit your results

Counted the stars? Send us what you’ve found out here, and we’ll collect the results from across the country to build a picture of where light pollution is worst.

Share results now

Your Star Count results will help us to make a map of where star-spotters are enjoying deep, dark skies. We’ll be able to show where light pollution is most serious, and work with local councils and others to decide what to do about it.

This year’s Star Count is supported by the British Astronomical Association.

How to take part in Star Count

Here are a few top tips for a brilliant Star Count evening:

  1. Try to pick a clear night for your count, with no haze or clouds, then wait until after 7pm so the sky is really dark.
  2. Looking south into the night sky, find the Orion constellation, with its four corners and ‘three-star belt’.
  3. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness – the longer you wait, the better – then count the number of stars you can see within the rectangle made by the four corner stars. Don’t count the corners, but if you can see them, do count the three stars in the middle – the belt.
  4. Make a note of the number of stars seen with the naked eye (not with telescopes or binoculars) and then submit your count results here
  5. Share your experiences (and any photos) with others on social media using #StarCount
  6. And don’t forget to check back to see the national results and how your area compares to the rest of the country.