Starry starry night
We're calling on people to take part in Campaign to Protect Rural England's Star Count Week.
Between Monday 31 January and Sunday 6 February, we're asking people to count the number of stars they can see within the constellation of Orion. CPRE is running the Star Count in partnership with the British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies, and the results will be used to make a Star Count map which will show how light pollution is spoiling views of the UK's night skies.
You can choose any night during the Star Count week, but the sky must be clear with no haze or clouds so that there's a good chance to see some stars. Also, look after 7pm so that it's dark enough. Then count the number of stars within Orion in the southern night sky - the same direction that a domestic satellite dish faces. Orion's main area is bounded by four bright stars, and your count should not include these. Do include Orion's belt, though - the three stars in the middle.
Better yet, have a look at the diagram on CPRE's website. Don't use telescopes or binoculars and then fill in the online survey form. You can also send your star count (plus time, date and location) to Star Count, Campaign for Dark Skies, 38 The Vineries, Colehill, Wimborne BH21 2PX.
Here in the Peak District, the National Park Authority is running a very similar project between Friday 28 January and Wednesday 2 February. In this local version, people are asked to spot Orion and then compare what they see with a series of online images which show different views affected by light pollution. All the information about how to take part and report your observations is on the Peak District National Park's website.