To celebrate the wonder of starry skies, CPRE, the countryside charity, together with the Cannock Chase AONB Partnership, invite you to take part in CPRE’s Star Count, a cosmic census to map our view of the stars. It’s taking place between 6-14 February. This year we’re asking everyone to take part from home. You can stargaze from your garden, balcony, doorstep or even bedroom window.

Dark starry skies are a magical sight, but glare from streetlights and buildings can mean that many of us don’t get to see them. Just 3% of people in England experience ‘truly dark skies’.

That’s why we need your help to count the stars. Anyone can take part in the survey by choosing a clear night between 6-14 February and counting the number of stars they can see within the constellation of Orion. You don’t need a telescope or any other equipment. It’s a family-friendly activity that’s quick and easy to do, even during lockdown, and can help more of us experience the beauty of a starry sky.

We particularly hope you will take part in the Star Count if you live in or around Cannock Chase. Cannock Chase has the highest levels of light pollution of all England’s 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), as it is affected by light spillage from nearby towns, although it remains an oasis of darkness relative to the surrounding area. The Cannock Chase AONB Partnership wants to conserve its dark skies for people to enjoy and for nature to thrive. The results of February’s cosmic census will help CPRE and the AONB Partnership in their work to reduce light pollution and keep the night skies above Cannock Chase special.

How to take part in Star Count

  1. Make a note of the dates, 6-14 February 2021, and keep an eye on the weather forecasts as the week approaches.
  2. Try to pick a clear night for your count, with no haze or clouds, then wait until after 7pm so that the sky is really dark. Turn off all the lights in your house, too, to make it easier to see the stars.
  3. Looking south into the night sky, find the Orion constellation, with its four corners and ‘belt’.
  4. Take a few moments to let your eyes adjust, then count the number of stars you can see within the rectangle formed by the four corner stars. You can count the three stars in the middle – the belt – but not the corner stars.
  5. Make a note of the number of stars seen with the naked eye (not with telescopes or binoculars) and then submit your count on CPRE’s website.
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