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How many stars can you see?

Thursday, 07 February 2013 10:36

Camille Flammarion, from L'Atmosphere: Meteorologie Populaire (Paris,1888) Camille Flammarion, from L'Atmosphere: Meteorologie Populaire (Paris,1888)

How many stars can you see? Count the stars in our week-long cosmic census and help measure the impact of light pollution

Light pollution, that dirty orange glow that obscures the night sky, is now a huge problem in England. It affects people's sleep patterns, disturbs wildlife and is an appalling waste of energy.

To find out how widespread light pollution is, and if it's getting worse, every year the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) alongside the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS) conducts a Star Count. They use the results to produce a Star Count map of the country. This information helps to tackle the problems caused by light pollution.

Take part in the cosmic census

This year the Star Count will take place from Friday 8 to Friday 15 February. Count stars on any evening that week when there no cloud. It will be dark enough from 7pm.

Count the stars within the constellation of Orion, which will be visible in the southern sky (the same direction that household satellite dishes face). The main area of Orion is bounded by four bright stars. Don’t count these four corner stars, but do count all those you see within this rectangular boundary, including the stars in the middle known as Orion's belt. Count the number of stars that you can see with the naked eye not with telescopes or binoculars and then enter the number you have counted into this webpage http://bit.ly/XRwOs0.

Poet Sir Andrew Motion, who is CPRE President, says: "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. Excessive lighting isn’t just an extravagance; it’s colossally wasteful."

More about the star count: http://www.cpreoxon.org.uk/events/current-events/item/2221-star-count-2013

How many did you count? Enter the results of your star count here: http://bit.ly/XRwOs0

Light pollution maps and data: http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/countryside/dark-skies?start=10

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