The annual CPRE Star Count takes place this year from 6th February to 12th February. The event, which asks stargazers to look towards the constellation of Orion and count how many stars they can see, is very much worth participating in for a variety of reasons…
For a start it’s good fun! Everyone can take part and it’s a great activity for families with younger astronomers — and you don’t need a telescope! In these times of lockdown it’s a good excuse to get outside and looking up too.
Submitting your star count to the CPRE will help highlight just how much light pollution adversely affects our views of the night time skies. Even if you live in a town or city and cannot see many stars please do join in — your star counts are arguably the most important!
When darkness falls look for the constellation of Orion. It can be seen towards the South East at 18:00, however as the Earth rotates it will appear to move across the sky from East to West. At 21:00 it will due South and at midnight towards the South West.
Give your eyes a little time to adjust to low light and avoid looking at bright lights (including your phone). Count the number of stars you can see within the rectangle pattern of Orion — everyone will be able to see the three brightest stars in the middle — Orion’s belt! Depending on how much light pollution there is will determine how many stars you can see.
Once counted submit your star count to the CPRE via their website.
If you would like to sign-up for a free activity pack, which includes a recipe to make star biscuits, you can do so here.
Light pollution not only affects our views of the stars but also the well-being of humans and many animals and insects too. We are hopeful that as a result of your star counts it will encourage Members of Parliament to take action, this through the newly formed APPG for Dark Skies, and introduce legislation that will help protect our views of the heavens for generations to come. (Perhaps you might write to your MP asking them to join the group?)
Please do tell your friends and family and encourage them to get involved too…