Sun, 31 Jan 2021
PEOPLE in West Berkshire are being encouraged to take part in an annual national Star Count to record a view of the night sky between February 6 and 14.
CPRE, the countryside charity, is working with the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies to find indications of light pollution levels across the country.
By counting the number of stars they see in the Orion constellation, citizen scientists will help map the best and worst places in England to enjoy a star-filled night sky.
The results will indicate whether West Berkshire suffer from severe light pollution as, nationally, 61 per cent of last year’s participants did.
They will also be compared with 2020’s findings, gathered before coronavirus restrictions took hold, to see whether lockdown has had an impact.
Light pollution means many people experience a limited view of the night sky, and it also disrupts wildlife’s natural patterns.
By showing where people’s views are most affected by light pollution, CPRE can use this evidence in crucial lobbying efforts to protect and enhance the skies of West Berkshire, improving our health, wellbeing, wildlife and the environment.
The countryside charity’s local branch CPRE Berkshire said: "We want to know what people in Newbury and West Berkshire can see from their own doorstep, backyard, garden or balcony.
"It’s a family-friendly activity that connects us to that sense of wonder when we look up at the night sky and no telescope, binoculars or equipment is needed."
The charity is asking people to choose a clear night between Saturday and Sunday, February 14, to look at the constellation of Orion the hunter, with the naked eye and count how many stars they can see in a ‘rectangle’ formed by the constellation’s four ‘corner’ stars.
CPRE Berkshire added: "To find Orion, look south in the night sky and look for the row of three bright stars that make up his belt.
"The two bright stars above his belt are Orion’s shoulders, the two bright stars below are Orion's feet. It is those four stars that form the rectangle’s four corners.
"Record how many stars you can see inside the rectangle (you can include the three stars of Orion’s belt but not the four corner stars) then enter your results on CPRE’s website survey page.
"The results entered help to gather good, solid evidence of how areas in Newbury and West Berkshire are affected by light pollution."
For more information, go to www.cpre.org.uk/starcount