Nationwide star count to reveal lockdown’s impact on light pollution

 

  • From 6-14 February, CPRE, the countryside charity will call on people to count stars from their garden or window as part of its annual nationwide star count
  • Data will be compared to 2020 to see whether lockdown had an impact and be used for vital lobbying efforts for darker skies
  • CPRE Hampshire need participants from Hampshire to help map the night sky

 

People living in all areas of Hampshire are being urged to take part in an annual Star Count to record our view of the night sky. 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 Hampshire suffers from severe light pollution, of which 61% 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 only 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 Hampshire, improving our health, wellbeing, wildlife and the environment.

 

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

 

A starry night sky is one of the most magical sights the countryside can offer, connecting us to the nature we all love and the wonders of the wider universe. Dark skies are also crucial for our health and for that of wildlife. Lockdown and the coronavirus have reminded us about how good for us the countryside can be.

But many places suffer from light pollution, bleaching out the night sky. We want to change this. By taking part in Star Count, people will be contributing to citizen science, helping us to lobby the government for more protection of this too often overlooked, but vital, part of our countryside.

 

Bob Mizon, UK coordinator of the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies, said:

 

Turning back the tide of light pollution brings darker night skies and improvements to the well-being of humans, wildlife and the environment. In its three decades of working with the CPRE towards these goals, we have seen increased public and Parliamentary awareness of the importance of our view of the universe above.

The CPRE Star Count is an important part of this work, especially in these abnormal times when we have a chance to see whether changes in our activities are having any positive effect on the atmosphere and our view of the night sky.

 

Organisations across the country are supporting this year’s Star Count, including popular amateur astronomy group Go Stargazing. Set up by space enthusiast Neill Sanders, Go Stargazing are strong advocates for protecting our night skies and supported several Dark Sky Park/Reserve accreditations from the International Dark Sky Association.

 

Speaking on the importance of Star Count, Neill Sanders of Go Stargazing, said:

 

There’s only one thing I like more than to look through my telescope, and that is for other people to look through it! My ambition is to encourage people’s interest in astronomy by getting them involved in the practical side — going outdoors and enjoying views of starry skies. 

 

I’m extremely pleased to be once again supporting CPRE and their annual Star Count… It’s a match made in the heavens!’

 

CPRE Hampshire, the countryside charity is grateful to the following Hampshire organisations for supporting CPRE’s Star Count 2021:

 

  • New Forest National Park Authority as part of their Awakening Festival
  • Countryside Education Trust
  • Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium
  • Hampshire Outdoor Centres (Hampshire County Council)
  • Hampshire Countryside Service (Hampshire County Council)
  • The Wolf Pack Forest School
  • Hampshire Scouts
  • Hampshire Guides
  • South Downs Society

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