Islanders Asked To Take Part In Star Count

Have you ever thought that the stars look much clearer in Scilly?

Well now is your chance to help measure that by taking part in the Big Star Count, being organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Staff at the Islands’ AONB are asking people to help out with the event, due to take place during the week beginning 20th January, a so-called ‘dark moon’ week.

Radio Scilly’s own astronomer, Steve Sims, says you should do your star count with the naked eye on a clear night during the week.

Stars should be counted within the constellation of Orion, which will be visible in the southern sky (the same direction that household satellite dishes face).

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.

It’s hoped the count will help to quantify the level of light pollution across the UK.

Once the data is collected individuals can enter the results on the CPRE’s survey form, available online. These results will then be plotted on a national Star Count Map, published on CPREs website.

If residents would like more information on how to take part, they are able to pick up an information sheet from the Tourist Information Center, or from the Town Hall One Stop Shop. Off-Island residents can pick up forms from their Island post office.

The AONB has also placed details on their website here.

Recent counts elsewhere have recorded anywhere between 5 and 30 stars in the area and Steve thinks Scilly should be a good place to stargaze, although he added the bright lights at the harbour has reduced the clarity of the night sky in Hugh Town.

Rebecca Steggles from the AONB says the group is trying to obtain a dark sky quality meter to monitor levels of light pollution over the islands.

She’s also trying to arrange a visit by a colleague from Exmoor National Park, which recently became a ‘Dark Night Sky Reserve,’ to help with the monitoring.