Help count stars next week!

17th Jan 2012

We need you to help us map light pollution during national Star Count Week - starting this Friday 20 January.

Along with the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS), we at CPRE are asking people to take part in the 2012 Star Count Week between Friday 20 January and Friday 27 January. 
We need you to count the number of stars you can see within the constellation of Orion. The results will help create a 2012 Star Count map, illustrating how light pollution is affecting the view of the night sky across the UK.

Light pollution might not perhaps seem to be the most pressing environmental problem in South Yorkshire, but it is really significant. It damages the character of our countryside, and blurs the distinction between towns and country. Light pollution disrupts wildlife and can badly affect people’s sleeping patterns. It also denies people the experience of a dark, starry sky.

Information gathered during the 2011 Star Count week last January showed that the proportion of people taking part in the survey who are living with severe light pollution increased from 54 per cent in 2007 to a new high of 59 per cent. Only eight per cent of participants could see more then 20 stars and just one per cent of people had truly dark skies, seeing 30 or more stars.

The Campaign for Dark Skies will use information from the Star Count survey to measure the extent of light pollution. It wants to use the evidence to convince Ministers and local councils of the need to take action to tackle it, for example by ensuring that the correct lighting is used only where it is needed and when it is needed. This would cut light pollution, reduce carbon emissions and save money at the same time.

Recently, more local authorities have been seeking ways to deliver their services more efficiently, and there is also growing awareness of the impact of poorly designed street-lighting. Switch off or dimming schemes for lighting, in consultation with the police and local people to ensure that there are not adverse impacts on safety, can be effective. Redesign of lighting to ensure it is better targeted on where it needs to be also saves energy, money and our long-term view of the night sky.
 
It is simple and easy to take part in Star Count Week 2012 and you can sign up for an email reminder to take part. Full instructions are available on the CPRE website www.cpre.org.uk/starcount.