The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), in conjunction with the British Astronomical Association‘s Campaign for Dark Skies, has recently announced their 2011 Star Count Project.

Star Count Week 2011 (from CPRE website)

Star Count Week (Monday 31 January – Sunday 06 February 2011) aims to get you outside and looking up, specifically to assess how dark – or light – your sky is.

The technique is simple. 1. Find Orion. 2. Count all the stars you can see within the main rectangle formed by Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, Rigel and Saiph, the four stars that make up Orion’s shoulders and feet. (Don’t count the three bright belt stars). 3. Tell the CPRE.

That’s it. By counting how many you can see, astronomers can calculate your sky’s limiting magnitude, or the brightness of the faintest stars you can see. It’s a very simple – and rewarding – project to take part in.

There are other annual star count programmes, such as GLOBE at Night (March 22 – April 4 2011) which I blogged about during their 2010 event. You can also get more involved and conduct a detailed dark sky survey, or take part in local activities such as the Peak District National Park’s Orion in the Peak project

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