THERE is still time to take part in Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) Star Count to help map our dark skies.

The count, which is also supported by the British Astronomical Association, is running until February 23 and stargazers are asked to count the number of stars they can see with the naked eye, within the constellation of Orion, which is only visible in the winter months.

As well as promoting dark skies and engaging people in the wonders of stargazing, CPRE aims to highlight the blight that light pollution is causing to dark skies, and its subsequent impact on people and nature.

The group says that not only does light pollution prevent people from enjoying the beauty of a starry sky, it can seriously disrupt wildlife behaviour and badly affect people’s sleeping patterns, impacting on physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Emma Marrington, dark skies campaigner at CPRE, said: “A dark sky filled with stars is one of the most magical sights our countryside has to offer and for thousands of years our night sky has been a source of information, fascination and inspiration for all of humanity.

“Increasingly, however, too many people are denied the opportunity to experience this truly natural wonder.

“We want as many people as possible, from right across the country, to get out and get involved with Star Count 2019.

“How many stars you see ultimately depends upon the level of light pollution in your area, but by counting stars and helping us to map our dark skies, together we can fight back against light pollution and reclaim the night sky.”

The countryside charity will use the results from the Star Count to create a new map to show how light pollution is affecting the nation’s views of the night sky.

CPRE’s ‘Night Blight’ maps, based on satellite data, showed that just 22 per cent of England is untouched by light pollution, and that more than half of the darkest skies are over National Parks or AONBs.

Through the Star Count, CPRE will be able to provide more detailed and up-to-date information on the impact that light pollution is having on people’s experience of dark skies.

Using this information, CPRE will work with local and national government to ensure that appropriate lighting is used only where it is needed – helping to reduce carbon emissions, save money and protect and enhance our dark skies.

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