Star Count results
In February CPRE, the countryside charity, asked the nation to count the number of stars visible in the Orion constellation.
More than 2,400 people took part and the results show that for most of us, light pollution is blocking our view of the night sky.
61 per cent of people taking part counted ten stars or fewer, meaning they were in an area with severe light pollution. That’s an increase from 57 per cent last year.
44 per cent of people taking part in Dorset counted ten stars or fewer, meaning they were in an area with severe light pollution and 2.2 per cent counted more than 30 stars -
CPRE, along with the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies, say that councils must act on light pollution so more people can enjoy starry skies.
Counting the number of stars visible in the constellation of Orion helps build up a picture of the nation’s views of the night sky.
CPRE believes that a star filled night sky is one of the most magical sights of the countryside. And throughout the coronavirus outbreak lockdown, gazing up at the stars will have brought comfort to many during an extremely difficult time. Yet light pollution can spread from towns and cities into the countryside, denying many people the chance to experience the wonder and tranquillity of seeing a sky full of stars.
CPRE chief executive Crispin Truman said: 'Gazing up at the heavens can inspire and help lift our spirits, especially when many of us are forced to do so from within our homes at the moment. It is a shame that few of us can see the starry skies in all their glory, without the intrusion of light pollution.’
There was some good news at the other end of the scale, with 3 per cent of people counting more than 30 stars within Orion, meaning that they were in areas with truly dark skies. That’s a rise from 2 per cent in 2019.
Families who took part and were able to see plenty of stars on the night of their count reported how much they loved the experience. In addition, 99 per cent of star-
Bob Mizon from the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS), who lives in Dorset, said ‘It’s wonderful to hear about families having fun doing the Star Count. Children should be able to see the Milky Way, their own galaxy, by looking up at the sky, not looking online!’
CPRE and CfDS believe that councils have the power to give people better views of the night sky. And when asked, 82 per cent of star-
Crispin added: ‘We’d like to see councils adopting better policies in local plans to tackle light pollution and protect and enhance our darkest skies, where people can still experience the wonder of a star filled night sky. There are straightforward steps councils can take, in consultation with local people, that don’t just reduce light pollution but save energy and money too.’
The map showing the results of CPRE’s Star Count 2020 is online here: cpre.org.uk/starcountresults