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Star Count 2021: explore what we learned - CPRE

Look to the skies and count what you can see as part of our annual Star Count. Abigail Oliver / CPRE
Look to the skies and count what you can see as part of our annual Star Count. Abigail Oliver / CPRE

What the 2021 results of our record-breaking citizen science project tell us about the levels of light pollution near you – and what we can do about it.

February 2021 saw thousands of you stepping up for deep, dark skies and helping us count stars to measure light pollution in your area.

Despite chilly nights and the coronavirus lockdown, you broke records with more of you than ever looking skywards to Orion. Here’s what we learned from your counts.

The results are in

Our biggest ever Star Count, with over 7000 of you participating, showed that 2021 saw much lower reports of bad light pollution across the UK than in 2020.

Only 51% of our star-spotters said that they could see only ten or fewer stars, meaning that they were experiencing severe light pollution. In 2020, 61% of people were in that boat, so 2021 has seen a pretty dramatic drop in severe light pollution!

We think that this might be down to a ‘lockdown effect’, as much of the country had strict coronavirus pandemic restrictions during Star Count week, 6-14 February 2021. With quieter urban areas and fewer large buildings in operation, it’s likely there’s less glow or leakage into our night skies.

More dark skies, less light leaking

2021 also saw more of you telling us that you could see a whopping 31 or more stars in Orion! This means you’re seeing the most stars of all of our stargazers, and enjoying truly dark skies.

And there’s good news here, too – 5% of you told us you had truly dark skies this year. This is another pleasing boost on the numbers of you experiencing this in 2020!

We’re delighted to see that more of us can enjoy the natural wonder of the night sky. It’s an area we’ve long been passionate about, and we’ll keep monitoring light pollution to track future changes.

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