Islanders Encouraged To Count Stars

View of night sky over St Agnes by time-lapse photographer Graham Gaunt

View of night sky over St Agnes by time-lapse photographer Graham Gaunt

Islanders are being encouraged to count the stars as part of a national light pollution measurement campaign.

It is the third time Scilly’s AONB has arranged the islands’ participation in the Big Star Count, which in turn is backed by the British Astronomical Association and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

Scilly has relatively dark skies compared to many parts of the country but it’s not immune to light pollution increases, and the reports received will help monitor any changes.

A recent study highlighted increased amounts, compared to the mid-1990s, around Hugh Town and the southern end of Tresco.

Rebecca Steggles from the AONB says islanders are encouraged to pick a clear night, any time after 7pm and before March 8th.

You will need to count as many stars as you can within the four corner stars of the Orion constellation and only by using the naked eye.

If you need help in finding Orion, stargazing charts are available from the TIC at Porthcressa or the AONB Office at the Old Wesleyan Chapel.

Rebecca says that the average count was 28 stars last year and 25 stars in 2012.

Spectators on St Mary’s are likely to see fewer stars when spotting from Hugh Town, than, for example, from Longstone.

And if you’d rather spot in a group, on Monday, there’ll be a 2-hour long Big Star Count walk with astronomer Steve Sims.

It will start at 7pm from the Old Wesleyan Chapel and there will be hot chocolate available afterwards.

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