Stargazers sought to help survey be a success

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Rural campaigners and scientists are looking to recruit amateur stargazers to help them map light pollution during their national Star Count Week starting on Friday, January 20.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England and the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies are asking people to take part in the 2012 Star Count Week between over seven days, when the skies should be at their darkest at the time of the new moon.

Stargazers will be asked to count the number of stars they can see within the constellation of Orion. The results will help create a 2012 Star Count map, illustrating how light pollution is affecting the view of the night sky across the UK.

Participants can choose any night between Friday, January 20 and Friday, January January but the sky must be clear, with no haze or clouds, so there is the best chance of seeing stars. It is recommended that observations are made after 7pm so the sky is sufficiently dark.

Organisers are asking people to count stars within the constellation of Orion in the south-western night sky. The main area of the constellation is bounded by four bright stars. The star count should not include these four corner stars – only those within this rectangular boundary – but do include the stars in the middle known as Orion’s three-star belt. A diagram is available at www.cpre.org.uk/starcount

People should make a count of the number of stars seen with the naked eye (not with telescopes or binoculars) and then simply complete the online survey form: or send their count, the time and date it was made, and the location to our address: Star Count, Campaign for Dark Skies, 38 The Vineries, Colehill, Wimborne, BH21 2PX.

Further details of the Star Count Week and instructions on how to take part can be found at {http:// www.cpre.org.uk/starcount}