Rural campaigners and astronomers are calling on the nation’s ‘citizen scientists’ to take part in Star Count 2013 – a cosmic census which will help map light pollution across the country.
Isle of Wight Stargazers are being asked to count the number of stars they can see (with the naked eye) within the constellation of Orion.
The national Star Count will take place between Friday 8th February – Monday 18th February. Everyone who joins in will have a chance to win a fantastic telescope or one of ten copies of the Stargazers’ Almanac.
Sir Andrew Motion launched Star Count 2013: the campaign to stop light pollution blinding us to the stars.
CPRE President, Sir Andrew Motion, said:
‘Reclaim darker skies! They are within our reach, and the growing awareness of thousands of people who value the night sky means we can halt the blight of light pollution. It may not seem the most serious environmental issue, but it has a range of significant impacts. It damages the character of the countryside, blurs the distinction between town and country, and denies people the experience of a dark, starry sky. Light pollution can disrupt wildlife and badly affect people’s sleeping patterns. Excessive lighting isn’t just an extravagance; it’s colossally wasteful.’
How to take part in Star Count 2013: Any night between Friday 8th February – Monday 18th February 2013:
Locate the Orion constellation, which is in the southern night sky (the direction that satellite dishes face). 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 www.cpre.org.
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.
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
Sir Andrew concluded:
The 2013 Star Count results will help create a new map which will show how light pollution is affecting the nation’s views of the night sky. This information will be used to lobby Government to produce guidance for local authorities on how to tackle light pollution. It will also be used to encourage councils to introduce lighting policies and consider how they can improve street lighting in their areas.
‘If watching the stars is the closest we can get to time travel then a campaign to raise our sights to what is above us, and to combat the light pollution that increasingly robs us of our celestial views – and spoils the environment below – is all the more vital. We need as many people as possible to participate and in a few minutes you can do your bit to help reclaim the night sky.’
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