How 
dark 
are 
Cheshire's
 skies?
 | Knutsford Times

How 
dark 
are 
Cheshire’s
 skies?


By on January 7, 2011

Have
 you
 been
 inspired
 by
 the
 BBC’s
 recent
 ‘Stargazing
 Live’
 series,
 hosted
 locally
 at
 Jodrell
 Bank,
 to
 get
 out
 into
 your
 back
 garden
 and
 get
 more
 familiar
 with
 the
 heavens?

While
 you
 are
 out
 there,
 why
 not
 take
 part
 in
 an
 experiment
 being
 run
 by
 the
 Campaign
 to
 Protect
 Rural
 England
(CPRE) 
and 
the 
Campaign
 for
Dark 
Skies
 (CfDS)
to
 see
 how
 dark
 our
 skies 
are?

The 
charities 
are 
calling 
for
 citizen
 scientists 
to 
count
 the 
number 
of 
stars 
they 
can
 see
 within
 the
 constellation
 of
 Orion
 on
 a
 clear
 night
 between
 Monday
 31st
 January
 and
 Sunday
 6th
 February,
 and
 complete
 an
 online
 form
 or
 submit
 their
 results
 by
 post;
 the
 results
 will
 help
 to
 create
a
Star
Count
Map 
illustrating 
how
light
 pollution
 is 
affecting
 the
 view
 of
 the
 night 
sky.

Emma
 Marrington,
 Rural
 Policy
 Campaigner
 at
 CPRE,
 says:
 “Light
 pollution
 damages
the
 character
 of
 the
 countryside,
 blurs
 the
 distinction
 between
 town
 and
 country,
 and
 denies
 people
 the
 experience
 of
 a
 dark,
 starry
 sky.
 But
 this
 isn’t
 just
 about
 the
 effect
 on
 star
 gazing
 or
 countryside. 
Light 
pollution
 can
 disrupt 
wildlife 
and 
badly 
affect 
people’s 
sleeping 
patterns.

“The
 Star
 Count
 survey
 will
 help
 us
 measure
 the
 extent
 of
 light
 pollution.
We
 want
 to
 use
 this
 evidence
 to
 convince
 Ministers
 and
 local
 councils
 of
 the
 need
 to
 take
 action
 to
 tackle
 it,
 for
 example
 by
 ensuring
 that
 the
 correct
 lighting
 is
 used
 only
 where
 it
 is
 needed
 and
 when
 it
 is
 needed.
 This
 would
 cut
 light
 pollution,
 reduce
 carbon
 emissions
 and
 save
 money
 at
 the
 same
 time.
 Some 
local
 authorities
 are
 already
 taking 
action 
to 
tackle
 light
 pollution
 in
 their 
areas, we
 need
more
to
do
the
same.”

In
 recent 
years,
 light
 pollution
 has 
been
a 
growing 
problem,
 with
 more 
and 
more 
of 
the 
UK
 left
 without
 a
 clear
 view
 of
 the
 night
 sky.
 Earlier
 this
 year
 a
 CPRE/CfDS
 survey
 found
 eight
 out
 of
 ten 
people
(83
per
cent)
 had
 their 
view 
of
 the
 night 
sky
 affected
 by
 light
 pollution
 [1].
Councils
 spend
 a
 collective
 £532
 million
 on
 street
 lighting
 each
 year
 [2]
 and
 the
 lights
 can
 account
 for
 around
 5‐10 
per
cent 
of 
a 
council’s 
carbon 
emissions
[3].

Bob
 Mizon,
 Campaign
 for
 Dark
 Skies
 Coordinator,
 says:
 “The
 light
 from
 distant
 stars
 and
 galaxies
 takes 
hundreds ,
thousands even 
millions 
of 
years 
to 
reach 
our
eyes.
 What 
a
 tragedy 
to
 lose
 it 
on 
the 
last 
millisecond
 of 
its 
journey!”

In 
2006/07
 nearly
2 ,000
 people
 took
 part 
in
 the 
CPRE/CfDS 
Star 
Count
 Week.
In
 that
 year,
only
 two 
per
cent 
of 
respondents 
said 
they 
could
 see
 more 
than 
30 
stars 
in 
Orion, 
compared 
with 
54
 per
 cent
 who
 saw
 fewer
 than
 10
 –
 a
 level
 which
 indicates
 severe
 light
 pollution.
 The
 results
 from
 the
 next
 Star
 Count
 Week
 will
 allow
 researchers
 to
 see
 whether
 light
 pollution
 is
 continuing
 to
 get
 worse 
or 
if 
there 
has 
been
 an 
improvement. It
 is
 very
 straightforward
 to
 take
 part
 in
 Star
 Count
 Week
 2011.

Full
 instructions
 are
 available
 below 
and 
will 
be 
on
 the 
CPRE 
website
 from
 10
January
 2011
 www.cpre.org.uk/starcount.

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