Home > Dark Places, Light Pollution, Stargazing > Star Count 2012

Star Count 2012

Once again the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies are running a UK-wide star count programme. This year’s event takes place between 20-27 January 2012. On any of these nights the skies will be dark enough to begin your star count by 7pm.

Count all the stars within the rectangle of Orion's brightest four stars

This is the third such star count, previous ones having taken place in 2007 and 2011. Last year’s star count resulted in lots of observations, presented in this map.

Map of observations from Star Count 2011

To make your own observations for Star Count 2012 find Orion in the sky and count how many stars you can see within the rectangular boundary formed by the four brightest stars in Orion. Those boundary stars are called Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, Rigel and Saiph.

Orion the Hunter

You should count the three belt stars – Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka – plus any other stars that are visible. The above star map shows around 40 stars within that boundary. If you can see that many stars then you’ll be in one of the darkest places in the UK. For most of us we’ll count far fewer stars than that. People in very bright urban areas may only see the three belt stars.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that the CPRE will accept observations from anywhere in the UK, not just England.

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