Stargazers put on light pollution alert

Witney Gazette: St Clare’s stargazers, from left, head of physics Simon Davies, Juan Manuel Correa, Anna Wilson, Sairah Rees (front), Hannah Gibbs and Joshua Hammond Buy this photo St Clare’s stargazers, from left, head of physics Simon Davies, Juan Manuel Correa, Anna Wilson, Sairah Rees (front), Hannah Gibbs and Joshua Hammond

GAZE up at the stars and enjoy the night sky while you still can, light pollution campaigners have warned.

Star Count Week 2013, which began on Friday, is being organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies.

Results from last year’s event showed that 60 per cent of people across the UK are living with severe light pollution.

Families across Oxfordshire are asked to stare up at the night, count stars and record them online.

The project aims to monitor light pollution caused by security lights, floodlights and street lights.

And CPRE Oxfordshire has warned that anyone living in Oxford may be in for a shock as there are few truly dark nights.

Spokeswoman Jane Tomlinson said: “It’s such a shame but it is a dying phenomenon in Oxfordshire to see a truly dark night.

“People are starting to notice the creep from light covering up the stars. Anyone who lives near an industrial area or floodlit area will really notice the creep from light pollution.

"Over the last 20 years in Oxford it has got so bad that there is virtually nowhere in the city you can see a dark sky.”

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No telescope is required to take part in Star Count, but one group who regularly stare up at the skies have asked members of the public to join them.

Pupils from St Clare’s school in Banbury Road, Oxford, regularly enjoy astronomy sessions as it is taught on the curriculum.

Astronomy teacher Simon Davies said. “There are regular telescope evenings. “The great thing is members of the public can come along too.”

  • The school can be contacted on 01865 552031.

HOW TO TAKE PART

To enter 2013 Star Count, go out after dark any time up to Saturday and count the number you can see within the four corner points of the Orion constellation.

To find Orion, look in the southwest sky, the same direction that household satellite dishes face, for three bright stars close together in an almost-straight line. These are Orion’s belt. Seeing more than 30 stars means dark skies; fewer than 10 indicates severe light pollution. Log results at cpre.org.uk

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