In February 2020, The Campaign to Protect Rural England asked for volunteer ‘citizen scientists’ to look to the skies and count stars within the Orion constellation in their annual cosmic survey to measure light pollution. Well the results are in.
2,500 “citizen scientists” took part, braving the rain and cold to count over 27,000 stars over the course of one week. This information give us all an insight into how much light is leaking from our developments into the night and obscuring our starry skies.
Take a look at our interactive map below for a national overview of the findings.
CPRE learned that almost two-thirds of people (61%) couldn’t see more than ten stars within Orion, indicating we’re experiencing severe light pollution. Worryingly, this was the highest figure they’ve seen since they started doing their annual counts.
But there was a small star of hope – 1% more people than last year (now 3%, up from 2% in 2019) informed CPRE they could see a whopping 30 stars or more in Orion! These lucky folk are benefiting from ‘truly dark skies’, and getting a great stargazing experience.
Are you living with light pollution, or enjoying velvety darkness and star-filled views?
Deep, dark skies are something CPRE really care about. They’ve long campaigned to ensure that our countryside can offer us all the amazing experience of a cosmic view. CPRE chief executive, Crispin Truman, puts it: ‘Gazing up at the heavens can inspire and help lift our spirits.’
And there are lots of good reasons why it helps us all to keep light pollution down. CPRE are passionate about addressing the climate emergency, and limiting artificial lights where possible as it’s a great way to save energy – and money. Not only can street lights account for as much as 30% of a council’s carbon emissions, but they can also cost lots – money that could be saved if lighting is reduced (safely and after consultation, of course).
Cutting down unnecessary light can have important effects beyond money and carbon. Our wellbeing, and that of nature, can actually be impacted by the loss of dark skies. Humans can find themselves with disrupted sleep, and excess light can confuse wildlife by interrupting feeding or migration patterns.
A huge 97% of those who took part informed CPRE that gazing at the stars had a positive impact on their wellbeing, and 88% would like to see more being done to protect dark skies where they live.
You can get involved in the CPRE Dark Skies campaign by contacting them at – email@example.com
The Shepway Vox Team
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