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Wanted: star-gazing amateur scientists

[Tuesday 11 January 2011]

TWO of Britain’s most respected bodies are on the lookout for amateur astronomers to gather data which will help them campaign against Britain’s light pollution which means that millions of people rarely see the stars.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the British Astronomical Association are looking for “citizen scientists” to join their Campaign for Dark Skies by joining Star Count Week between January 31 and February 6.

Emma Marrington, Rural Policy Campaigner at CPRE, says: “Light pollution damages the character of the countryside, blurs the distinction between town and country, and denies people the experience of a dark, starry sky.

“But this isn’t just about the effect on star gazing or countryside. Light pollution can disrupt wildlife and badly affect people’s sleeping patterns.

“The Star Count survey will help us measure the extent of light pollution. We want to use this evidence to convince Ministers and local councils of the need to take action to tackle it, for example by ensuring that the correct lighting is used only where it is needed and when it is needed.

“This would cut light pollution, reduce carbon emissions and save money at the same time. Some local authorities are already taking action to tackle light pollution in their areas; we need more to do the same.”

Bob Mizon, Campaign for Dark Skies Coordinator, says: “The light from distant stars and galaxies takes hundreds, thousands, even millions of years to reach our eyes. What a tragedy to lose it on the last millisecond of its journey!”

Full instructions on how to take part will be on the CPRE website from today, 10 January 2011. See www.cpre.org.uk/starcount

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