Star Count 2022 gives everyone the chance to become ‘citizen scientists’ by counting the number of stars they can see with the naked eye, not binoculars or telescopes, inside the Orion constellation.
Results from across the country will the create a comprehensive map of England’s night skies, finding out where the darkest areas are and which suffer most from light pollution.
Organised by CPRE, (formerly the Campaign to Protect Rural England) and the British Astronomical Association, the count runs from Saturday, February 26 to Sunday, March 6.
Although there is interest in the dark skies of County Durham and Northumberland, statisticians are equally interested in the views from places such as Sunderland, South Tyneside and Hartlepool.
As well as promoting dark skies and engaging people in the wonders of stargazing, CPRE aims to assess light pollution across the whole of England. They hope the survey will particularly catch the imagination of youngsters.
Using the information, CPRE plans to work with local and national government to ensure appropriate lighting is used only where it’s needed; helping reduce carbon emissions, save money and protect dark skies.
A clear view of the night sky helps balance our mental health and emotional wellbeing. However, light pollution is blotting out stars and obstructing our ability to connect with nature.
Lockdown produced clearer, darker skies in 2021. But experts fear it was only temporary.
Richard Cowen, chair of CPRE Durham, said: “It would be great to see families using this as a way to study the skies together.
“How many stars you will see ultimately depends upon the level of light pollution in your area, but by counting stars and mapping our dark skies together, we can fight back against light pollution and reclaim the night sky.”
Those participating are advised to try a count on a night with clear skies, with no haze or clouds and wait until after 7pm so the sky is really dark. Look south and find the Orion constellation, with its four corners and ‘three-star belt’.
For more information, advice and to sign up to Star Count 2022, visit the CPRE website.