Banbury star-gazers wanted for annual count

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Oxfordshire are asking residents to look to the stars and join in with Star Count 2020, a fun and easy way to enjoy the wonders of the universe.

Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 4:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 4:49 pm
Get the kids involved

Between February 21 and February 28 CPRE are asking people to simply count the number of stars they can see in the Orion constellation to help map the best and worst places to see the sight of a star-filled night sky.

Helen Marshall, director CPRE Oxfordshire said: "A starry night sky is one of the most magical sights the countryside can offer, connecting people to such an important part of our natural heritage. But many people don’t get to experience this beauty due to light pollution.

"We want to get people out counting the stars and helping to save them now and for future generations to enjoy."

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Orion's distinct outline

Last year’s Star Count results showed that light pollution, often caused by the glow and glare from street and outdoor household and sports lighting, is making beautiful starry skies an increasingly rare sight. Just 2 per cent of people who took part in Star Count 2019 said they were viewing a truly dark sky.

As well as preventing people from seeing the stars and wonders the Milky Way galaxy, the Northern Lights, and meteors (shooting stars), light pollution has serious impacts.

It disrupts the natural behaviour of wildlife and can be harmful for our health. It’s also a waste of energy, at a time when many people are trying to live more sustainably.

Using the results from the annual Star Count, CPRE will lobby government and local authorities to tackle light pollution, and also highlight which ‘dark sky’ areas need to be protected and enhanced by strong policies.

CPRE’s Star Count is supported by the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS).

Expert astronomer Bob Mizon from the CfDS said: ‘As well as being a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy the night sky, Star Count is starting to give us some really useful information. We’re hoping many more people will join in this year and give us the best map ever.’

To take part, star counters are asked to choose a clear night between Friday, 21 and Friday, 28 February. During this time the moon is less bright, making it easier to carry out a cosmic census, although CPRE will accept results from any nights in the second half of February.

Without using a telescope of binoculars, people can then count the stars within the rectangle shape formed by Orion, except the four stars on the outer corners, then submit their results at cpre.org.uk/starcount.