Citizen stargazers across Sussex are needed to take part in a star count on a galactic scale, organized by the countryside charity, CPRE.
By simply counting the number of stars they can see in the Orion constellation between 21 and 28 February, citizen-scientists taking part in Star Count 2020 will help map the best and worst places to see the awe-inspiring sight of a star-filled night sky.
Light pollution, often caused by the glow and glare from street and outdoor household and sports lighting, is making beautiful starry skies a rare sight for many of us. Research by CPRE in 2016 showed that although Sussex has some of the darkest skies in the country, particularly in protected landscapes, Crawley has some of the worst light pollution outside London. Just 2% of people who took part in Star Count 2019 nation-wide reported viewing a truly dark sky.
“We know dark skies are important to local people” says Kia Trainor, Director of CPRE Sussex, “Last month, local artist Steve Geliot gained over 11,000 signatories to his petition asking the American Express Community Stadium to reduce the nightly light-spill from lights and heaters due to the devastating impact on wildlife, particularly insects, and local people trying to sleep.”
Chair of CPRE Sussex, professor Dan Osborn agrees “With many local councils declaring a ‘Climate Emergency,’ concerns about light pollution and wasted energy are being raised by more and more people. Mapping the skies in this way means we can build up a picture of people’s views of the stars. It will help us fight back against light pollution and show where energy could be saved, helping the fight against climate change.”
Using the results from the annual Star Count, CPRE will lobby Government and local authorities to tackle light pollution, and identify 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 our cosmic census. 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
“The stars over Sussex are magical at this time of the year,” says CPRE Sussex vice Chair, David Johnson, “and we are hoping that our Star Count will inspire everyone to get outside to enjoy them”.
For more information please contact:
Kia Trainor, Director, CPRE Sussex: 07964 894333
Jamie Wyver, Media Relations Lead - Brand 020 7981 2827 / JamieW@cpre.org.uk