Star Count 2020 – Review
Last February seems like a lifetime ago, but at that time ,before social distancing and lockdown restrictions, I was at Wintersett Reservoir to count the starts as part of CPRE’s Star Count. It was bitterly cold, but the sky was clear and it was magical to be outside, away from the trappings of the everyday and the lights of the city around me, feeling in touch with the natural world and the wonder of the starlit skies.
Over 2,400 people took part in Star Count 2020. The count takes place each year to track light pollution. Everyone is invited to step outside at night and look to the stars, and to count the number of stars visible in the constellation of Orion. Recording these ‘sightings’ helps CPRE to understand peoples experience of the night sky across the country. This years count showed that 61% of the population live in areas with severe light pollution.
We have a fantastic article about street lighting from leading lighting engineer Dan Lister and a story about stargazing in our Winter 2020 issue of our Ways of Seeing magazine.
The balance between lighting our streets and allowing the natural balance of dark skies is a challenge. You can read more about it in our article Getting Lighting Right.
During these weeks in lockdown, many of us have had the opportunity to focus on the elements of the natural world around us. There have been some beautiful full moons, with equally beautiful names – The Pink Moon in April, the Flower Moon in May and the Strawberry Moon just last week. There is always something new to see in the night sky.
Emerging understanding about the importance of darkness for our flora and fauna, and new technologies which can improve street lighting by mitigating the impact on the night sky, means that there is hope for a better balance in the future. We need to find ways to make our voices heard, to influence change and ensure that the magic of Dark Skies are protected for our future generations.