Star Count 6-14 February 2021

Each year, CPRE asks the nation to help measure light pollution in their area by getting starry-eyed with us and counting visible stars.

What is Star Count?

We think that dark and starry skies are a special part of nature. Nothing beats looking upwards to see velvety blackness, with twinkling constellations as far as the eye can see.

Our buildings and streetlights emit light, though, and this can affect our view of truly dark skies. We want to make sure that we can all enjoy starlit nights, and we need your help in measuring what effect light is having on our views of the galaxy.

The best way to see how many stars we can all see in the sky is… to count them! So we’re asking people from all across the country to become citizen scientists and look skywards from home for one night. Join in by choosing a clear night between 6-14 February 2021, looking up at the constellation of Orion and letting us know how many stars you can spot.

This year we’re asking everyone to take part from home. You can stargaze from your garden, balcony, doorstep or even bedroom window. You can take part wherever you live – town, city or countryside.

Don’t worry: we’ll give plenty of support on how to do this. Once you’ve done your star-spotting, we’ll share a form with you where you can quickly and easily send us your count – and then we get busy with our number-crunching.

Your results from Star Count will help us make a map of where star-spotters are enjoying deep, dark skies. By showing on a map where light pollution is most serious, we and our national office can work with local councils and others to decide what to do about it. You can see the 2020 results, and the map of what we discovered, here.

Star Count is supported by the British Astronomical Association.

How to take part in Star Count

Here are our top tips for a brilliant Star Count evening:

  1. Remember that we’re counting stars from 6-14 February 2021, so choose a night!
  2. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts for the week ahead. Remember: your safety and health are the most important things, so stay at home for your star counting this year.
  3. Pick the clearest night for your count, with no haze or clouds, then wait until after 7pm so that the sky is really dark. Turn off all the lights in your house, too, to make it easier to see the stars.
  4. Looking south into the night sky, find the Orion constellation, with its four corners and ‘belt’.
  5. Take a few moments to let your eyes adjust, then count the number of stars you can see within the rectangle formed by the four corner stars. You can count the three stars in the middle – the belt – but not the corner stars.
  6. Make a note of the number of stars seen with the naked eye (not with telescopes or binoculars) and then submit your count to us here.
  7. Share your experiences (and any photos) with others on social media using #StarCount
  8. And don’t forget to check back here in the spring to see the national results and how your area compares to the rest of the country.

Children’s activity pack

We have a free downloadable family activity pack full of activities to get the kids involved and learning about our starry skies. Including recipes, word searches and other activities perfect for the children during lockdown.

Get your activity pack