Star Count 2021
A big thank you to the 8,000 who counted the stars to record our dark skies in February - and helped record a big drop in light pollution. Our annual Star Count is run jointly with the British Astronomical Association and this year found that there was a 10% drop in severe light pollution compared to 2020 and the highest percentage of truly dark skies since 2013.
5% of people were able to see 30 or more stars inside the constellation of Orion - the measure of a truly dark sky. Numbers of people joining in this citizen science project were a whopping 3 times greater than in past years.
We think lockdown is the most likely reason for this change, with fewer journeys, quieter than usual urban areas and unoccupied offices and stadia. Similar patterns have been found with air pollution, which has also dropped across the country.
Dark Skies week
The results have been published during International Dark Skies Week, run by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA), which raises awareness on the impacts of light pollution.
Light pollution can negatively affect human health and wildlife by disturbing animals’ natural cycles and behaviours. Badly designed, wasteful light also contributes to climate change and obscures our connection to the Universe.
Therefore, CPRE and IDSA want to combat light pollution through strong local and national policies, while also protecting and enhancing existing dark skies. This involves putting the right light in the right places, such as LED lights that only illuminate where we walk, and turning off lights in places like office buildings when they’re unoccupied.
CPRE and IDSA hope this fall in people experiencing the most severe light pollution - an unintended but positive consequence of lockdown - continues long after coronavirus restrictions are lifted so more people can experience the wonder of a truly dark sky.
Crispin Truman our Chief Executive said: ‘Looking up at a starry night sky is a magical sight and one that we believe everyone should be able to experience, wherever they live. And the great thing is, light pollution is one of the easiest kinds of pollution to reverse - by ensuring well designed lighting is used only where and when needed, and that there is strong national and local government policy.’
Coming soon - Herefordshire results!