Star Count Week results

11th May 2011

Earlier this year over 2,000 people across the country went outside to see how many stars they could count in the constellation of Orion. Most people didn't see many!

The Star Count was organised by Campaign to Protect Rural England and Campaign for Dark Skies.

The results show that three in five (59 per cent) people taking part could see just 10 or fewer stars within Orion - indicating severe light pollution in their area. Only eight per cent of people could see more than 20 stars, and just one per cent had truly dark skies, seeing 30 or more stars.

The proportion of people living with severe light pollution was up from 54 per cent in 2007 to 59 per cent this year. The results show that, despite good initiatives to reduce light pollutioin in some places, the contamination of Britain's night skies is getting worse.

CPRE and the Campaign for Dark Skies' are calling for better planning regulations to restrict unnecessary lighting, as well as asking people and organisations to check they are using the right lighting in the right place. That would help prevent light pollution - and save money and cut carbon emissions. In 2009, councils collectively spent £532 million on street lighting, accounting for about 5 - 10 per cent of each council's carbon emissions.

The Natural Environment White Paper is going to be published by the Government next month and that should also include firm proposals for tackling light pollution, which would improve the quality of our countryside and people's enjoyment of it.