Star Count 2013: preserving the UK's dark skies

Help count the cost of light pollution


Kieron Allen

Credit: Darren Baskill, Campaign for Dark Skies

Get involved with this month's count and help protect the UK's dark skies.

What do you see when you look up at the night sky, a blanket of stars or the amber glow of street lights? This month, the British Astronomical Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) hope to find out through Star Count 2013, a new initiative to map light pollution across the country.

Between 8 - 16 February, the nation’s stargazers are being asked to, using the naked eye, count the number of stars they can see within part of the constellation of Orion with the naked eye.

"The Star Count survey will help us measure the extent of light pollution,” said Emma Marrington, of the CPRE. "We want to use this evidence to convince ministers and local councils of the need to take action to control it, for example by ensuring that the correct lighting is used only where it is needed and when it is needed.”

It’s easy to get involved and everyone who submits their count will be entered into a prize draw to win a telescope or one of 10 copies of the 2013 Stargazers’ Almanac.

How to take part

When: any night between Friday 8 and Saturday 16 February 2013 after 7pm. Try to do your count on a clear night.

How: locate the constellation of Orion, the main area of which is confined by four bright stars. Count the number of stars within this area. Your count should not include the four corner stars – only those within the rectangular boundary – but should include the three middle stars that make up Orion’s belt. Only count the number of stars that can be seen with the naked eye.  

Finally: complete the online survey form that can be found at

Image credit: Pete Lawrence



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