People living in Dorset are being urged to look to the stars this week.
The nationwide star count is being organised by the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) to see whether lockdown has had an impact on light pollution.
By counting the number of stars they see in the Orion constellation, citizen scientists will help map the best and worst places in England to enjoy a star-filled night sky. For more information, visit www.cpre.org.uk/starcount.
Dark night skies are a special quality of the Dorset AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and contribute to the areas sense of tranquillity and remoteness. The Cranborne Chase AONB (overlapping the boundaries of Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset) was designated an International Dark Sky Reserve in October 2019.
Light pollution means many people only experience a limited view of the night sky, and it also disrupts wildlife’s natural patterns. By showing where people’s views are most affected by light pollution, CPRE can use this evidence in crucial lobbying efforts to protect and enhance the skies of Dorset, improving our health, wellbeing, wildlife and the environment.
Bob Mizon, UK coordinator of the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies, who lives in Colehill said, “Turning back the tide of light pollution brings darker night skies and improvements to the well-being of humans, wildlife and the environment. In its three decades of working with the CPRE towards these goals, we have seen increased public and Parliamentary awareness of the importance of our view of the universe above.
“The CPRE Star Count is an important part of this work, especially in these abnormal times when we have a chance to see whether changes in our activities are having any positive effect on the atmosphere and our view of the night sky.”
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