Star Count 2014

NAW 2014 joined forces with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies to monitor the extent of light pollution.

Star-Count-Orion - picture of Orion
How many stars can you see?

Latest: Results are out – click here.

Star Count 2014 ran from Wednesday 26th February to Saturday 8th March 2014, chosen to overlap National Astronomy Week. The results, regrettably, show growing light pollution in the UK.

There have been three Star Counts since a pilot in the winter of 2006/7 and over 6,000 records submitted.  In November 2013, CPRE President, Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate, wrote :  “Within the next decade, we should aim for darkness levels that will give all children a better chance to see the Milky Way, a sight our grandparents took for granted.”

The rest of this page was written before Star Count took place.

How to take part

It’s really easy to do and a great way to involve people in the campaign against light pollution.  Just count the number of stars visible with the naked eye in the constellation of Orion the Hunter any night during the Star Count period.

  • Try to do your count on a night when the sky is clear
  • Make your observations after 7pm when the sky will be sufficiently dark
  • Locate Orion in the southern night sky
  • Look for three bright stars close together in a straight line – the Hunter’s Belt.  Two bright stars to the north are his shoulders and the two to the south are his feet
  • Do not include the four corner stars – only those you can see within them
  • Do include the three stars in the middle (Orion’s Belt)
  • Make a count of the number of stars seen with the naked eye (not with telescopes or binoculars)
  • Enter your survey online.  Note – this is no longer possible.

The responses received will allow CPRE to create a Star Count Map to illustrate how light pollution affects people’s view of the night sky across the country.  Star Count 2013 revealed that only 5% of people who responded to their online survey said they could see more than 30 stars in Orion, compared to 54% who saw fewer than 10 stars – a level which indicates severe light pollution.

As above, the results are now on the CPRE Website.