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Help needed to go star-spotting in the Peak District

This is an archived press release

Tuesday 21 December 2010

16 December 2010

Help needed to go star-spotting in the Peak District

What to look for - the shape of Orion
People are being asked to get starry-eyed this New Year as they scour the heavens for Orion the hunter over the Peak District.

The Peak District National Park Authority is seeking the help of residents and visitors to find out how much light pollution obscures our view of the night sky.

The Authority is asking people to go outside in the Peak District on a clear night, any time from December 31 to January 5 or January 28 to February 2, to spot the constellation of Orion, with its distinctive “belt” of three bright stars in a line.

People are then asked to log their location, time and date and compare what they see with a series of images available online. The images show different views of Orion, some in a dark sky, where many stars are visible, and some with light-pollution and fewer stars. People need to identify which image most closely resembles what they see.

Once they have done that, they are asked to send their information back to the Authority.

Jane Chapman, head of environment, heritage and recreation strategy, said: “Light pollution not only affects our enjoyment of the night sky, it wastes energy and has an impact on the wellbeing of people and wildlife.

“Unfortunately light pollution is increasing each year, so unless we act now, future generations may grow up never experiencing a truly dark night sky.

“The National Park Authority is working closely with several local astronomical societies to determine how light pollution affects the night sky in and around the Peak District, but we’d be grateful for people’s help. This information will provide valuable evidence as to the quality of our night sky, and allow us to develop policies to protect it for future generations.”

All the information needed to take part, including how to report your observations, is available from the website www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/darkskies  

This is an archived press release

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