The great Star Count

The CPRE’s annual Star Count in the UK is under way and you have until Sunday 6 March to join in! Simply look at the constellation of Orion on a clear night and count the number of stars you can see within the rectangle of its four corner stars you see in the picture here.

Don’t count the four corner stars themselves, but just those within that rectangle, including the three bright stars of Orion’s Belt.

Here’s a tip: it’s easier to see faint stars if you don’t look directly at them! This is because your centre of vision is not the most sensitive part. But you can still see the stars quite clearly even if you are looking slightly away from them, a technique that astronomers call ‘averted vision’.

When you’ve counted, go to the CPRE’s Star Count website: https://www.cpre.org.uk/starcount. You’ll be asked to sign in and give your results. These will then help the CPRE to discover how Britain’s skies are changing – is it getting more difficult to see faint stars, or are the efforts to keep our skies dark working?

Anyone in the UK can take part, and results from those in city areas are just as welcome as from those in dark country sites.

To find out more about the fascinating constellation of Orion, look at our web story about the constellation.