February 6-14, 2021
The Council for the Protection of Rural England are repeating their annual campaign, asking us all to count the number of stars which we can see in the Orion constellation, and then to send in our results. From this data, a national map of ‘dark skies’ and levels of light pollution can then be drawn. See their website at www.cpre.org.uk for details on how to register and sign up for ‘Star Count 2021’. Anyone can take part – it is all free! Just have a go and become a ‘Citizen Scientist’! On several clear evenings, look out to the south and south-east, find the ‘rectangle’ of Orion with the 4 bright stars in its corners, count the number of stars within that rectangle, and send in your results.
Without street lights, this village and parish provide a narrow zone of slightly darker sky between the glow of lights from the urban areas of Luton, Hitchin and Stevenage. The Preston Trust is a member of the Hertfordshire branch of the CPRE.
Artificial bright lights illuminated throughout the night disrupt the natural diurnal cycle of changing light levels by day and by night. This upsets ‘the nocturnal ecosystems’ – the night-time activities of our wildlife, such as the feeding opportunities for moths, bats, badgers and foxes, the migration of insects and birds, and the breeding rituals of frogs and toads. Having the lights switched on also, obviously, uses energy and costs money!
National mapping of areas of low light pollution has led in recent years to those areas being given the status of, and internationally recognised as, ‘Dark Sky Reserves’. We now have several of these in GB: the South Downs, the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, the Kielder Forest Park, the Galloway Forest Park, Exmoor, the Brecon Beacons, the Elan Valley and Snowdonia, the Isle of Sark in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides, and the town of Moffat in the Annan valley. Evidence of sustained low levels of light pollution, with constant dark skies, contributes to the award of this new status. Check out CPRE’s 2020 map of light pollution levels across the country, mainly based on the contributions of 2,500 ‘stargazers’.
Be inspired by the magic of the stars which are visible from the darkness of our gardens!