We are delighted to be partnering up with CPRE London for this year’s Star Count, a cosmic census to map our view of the stars. In 2021, the Star Count takes place from 6-14 February.
A star-filled sky is one of the most magical sights on Earth, but here in London, the high levels of light pollution mean that most of us can’t see many (or any) stars. The Star Count invites Londoners to step outside and count the number of stars in the constellation Orion, and then record your count through the Star Count website. By counting stars, you will be a citizen scientist contributing valuable data that helps us understand London’s light pollution problems and how to solve them.
This year we’re asking everyone to respect the lockdown and to participate from home only.
Top tips for Star Count
Count from home
You won’t need a telescope – just your eyes, a sense of curiosity, and somewhere where you can see the sky to the south. You can see Orion by facing south from your garden, balcony, doorstep or even a bedroom or attic window.
Wrap up warm
If you’re heading to your garden or doorstep, wrap up before you head outside. You want to be able to comfortably stay still as you look up at the night sky and it can get chilly at this time of year! Take a thermos of something warm if you’re planning to make an evening of it.
Turn off all the lights in and around your house
Light from your home can affect the number of stars you may be able to see. Turn off all the lights in your home and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. You could even get your neighbours to join in and do a count at the same time!
Let your eyes adjust to the darkness
It takes around 20 minutes for the eye to fully adjust to the dark. So, the longer you wait, the better you’ll be able to see the stars. While you’re waiting, why not listen out to see if you can hear any nighttime wildlife?
Count the stars in Orion and send us your results
Look south (the way satellite dishes point) and find the Orion constellation. It’s best to look for the three bright stars in a row that form Orion’s belt.
Now find the four stars that form a rectangle around the constellation. Then count all the stars you can see within that rectangle. Include Orion’s belt, but not the four corner stars. Here’s an image of Orion to help you.
Once you’ve finished counting, make sure to jot down the information and send the results back through the Star Count website. This ensures that the valuable data you’ve gathered as a citizen scientist can be included in the study.