One of the problems with cities is the amount of light pollution that they are responsible for. So the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the British Astronomical Association (BAA) have joined forces to investigate.
Members of the public are being asked to spend some time stargazing in the first three weeks of February. In particular people are being asked to count the number of stars visible in the constellation of Orion.
Most people should be able to see at least some of the stars in Orion. The constellation includes two of the brightest stars in the sky – Rigel and Betelgeuse.
When people attempt this across the UK it will give the CPRE a way to see how bad light pollution is in every area of the UK.
It’s also going to help the British Astronomical Association work out if LED lights are helping or harming our night sky.
Bob Mizon from BAA said “As lighting in the UK undergoes the sweeping change to LEDs, it is really important that we know whether they are helping to counter the light pollution that has veiled the starry skies for most Britons for the last few decades”.
Light pollution can have some serious side-effects, beyond ruining astronomy. It can affect the behaviour of wildlife and may even disrupt human sleep patterns.
Emma Marrington, dark skies campaigner for CPRE said “A dark sky filled with stars is one of the most magical sights our countryside has to offer, and for thousands of years our night sky has been a source of information, fascination and inspiration for all of humanity”.
“Increasingly, however, too many people are denied the opportunity to experience this truly natural wonder. We want as many people as possible, from right across the country, to get out and get involved with Star Count 2019”.
The 2019 star count runs from Saturday February 2 to Saturday February 23. You can submit your count to the official website and there are full instructions there to help you.
If you’re struggling to find Orion in the night sky then grab a smartphone app to help. Sky Map for Android and Star Chart for iOS are both great ways to find stars, constellations and even planets in the night sky.