Join the National Star Count!

CPRE Star Count
From 2nd to 9th February CPRE is calling on amateur astronomers and anyone else who is interested in the night sky to take part in the 2019 Star Count.
The Star Count is an important tool in tracking the spread of light pollution. Once again this year's count is in association with the British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS).
In 2016 Herefordshire had the darkest night skies, based on average light levels.

What is light pollution & why is it an issue?
Light pollution is a generic term referring to excess artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed.
Light pollution blocks our view of the night sky; many children growing up in urban areas (& the countryside) may never see the Milky Way. Light pollution can also be detrimental to people's health and causes disruption to ecosystems and wildlife.

How to take part in the Star Count.
It’s really easy to do. Just count the number of stars visible with the naked eye in the constellation of Orion the Hunter any night during the Star Count period.

  • Try to do your count on a night when the sky is clear;
  • It is best to make your count after 9pm but if you have children wanting to take part, then make your observations after 7pm when the sky will be sufficiently dark;
  • Locate Orion in the southern night sky;

Orion showing the major stars

  • Let your eyesight adjust to the dark for at least 5 minutes:
  • Look for three bright stars close together in a straight line – the Hunter’s Belt.  Two bright stars to the north are his shoulders and the two to the south are his feet;

Star count rectangle superimposed on Orion the Hunter

  • Do not include the four corner stars – only those you can see within them;
  • Do include the three stars in the middle (Orion’s Belt);
  • Make a count of the number of stars seen with the naked eye (not with telescopes or binoculars) and then submit your results here.

Not surprisingly, the fewest stars tend to be seen in the more built up, developed areas, where there is more outdoor lighting.
However, many people in rural areas are surprised at how few stars they see, given that someone with good eyesight, and in an area free of light pollution, should see about 50 stars within Orion on a clear, moonless night.