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CPRE’s Star Count 2022 – The results are in

CPRE Norfolk
By CPRE Norfolk
17th May 2022

From 26th February to 6th March, 2,550 people took part in Star Count 2022 around the UK, our citizen science project to map the nation’s view of the night sky.

We’re now pleased to be able to share the results.

  • Star lovers are enjoying their best views of the night sky since CPRE, the countryside charity’s annual Star Count began in 2011, with severe light pollution continuing to fall since its 2020 peak
  • Working from home combined with concerns about soaring energy bills appear to have produced a ‘lockdown legacy’ – resulting in a clearer view of the stars
  • Turning off garden lights, dimming street lights and reducing office glare could permanently reduce carbon emissions and cut energy bills – while improving the natural environment for wildlife and human health

A significant reduction in severe light pollution levels, first recorded during lockdown last year, has continued, according to the results of a nationwide star count. Despite lockdown being well and truly behind us there does not appear to have been a corresponding increase in light levels from outdoor and street lighting.

The ‘lockdown legacy’ of working from home and rising energy prices has created an opportunity to permanently improve our view of the night sky. Office-based organisations switching to permanent home working, coupled with employers’ desire to reduce electricity bills, appear to have led to fewer lights being left on overnight. This, alongside households being more conscious about wasting energy and councils reducing street lighting and switching to better lighting design, are believed to be behind the continued reduction in light pollution.

Over 2,500 people took part in the annual Star Count, the country’s biggest citizen science project of its kind, between February 26 and March 6. Participants were asked to report the number of stars they could see in the Orion constellation. The results show severe light pollution, defined as being able to see ten or fewer stars with the naked eye, has continued to fall. After peaking in 2020, when 61% of participants reported seeing ten stars or less, severe light pollution fell to 51% in 2021 and continued its slide this year, to 49%.

Emma Marrington, CPRE’s dark skies campaigner, said:

‘Half of the people who took part in Star Count experienced severe light pollution that obscures their view of the night sky. This is bad for wildlife and human health – and the energy being needlessly wasted is bad financially and bad for our planet.

But the good news is that these results show small adaptations can make a big difference. If there is a silver lining from the legacy of lockdown and, now, the soaring cost of energy, it is that it has never been clearer how simple it is to cut carbon emissions and energy bills while improving our natural environment.’

A clear view of a star-filled night sky has a hugely beneficial effect on our mental health and, like access to other forms of nature, helps reduce stress and increase a sense of peace and wellbeing. Research has even shown that regularly spending time looking at the stars can lower blood pressure and reduce depression. Yet, the night sky, which is a hugely significant part of our natural environment, has no legal protection.

Turning off garden lights when not needed, dimming street lights and reducing office lighting could permanently reduce carbon emissions and cut energy bills while improving the natural environment for wildlife and human health. Other solutions that could reduce both light pollution and energy use include councils investing in well-designed lighting, used only where and when needed. They can also adopt policies in local plans to reduce light pollution and protect and enhance existing dark skies in their areas.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

‘The night sky is one half of our experience of nature; but we don’t often think of it like that. In and of itself, it helps balance our mental health and boost our emotional wellbeing. Recollect that experience of a starry sky and you instinctively know it soothed you.

‘But our view of the night sky – and all the benefits it undoubtedly brings – is being blotted out by light pollution. Like all forms of pollution, it is damaging our mental and physical health, and also having a severe impact on wildlife. Yet, it is a form of pollution that is allowed to increase year on year without any effort being made to control the damage it is causing.’

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What we’ll do now

If you’ve explored the map and noticed you’re being blinded by beams or left awake by leaking light, fear not. We at CPRE Norfolk will continue our work of many years to influence policy and celebrate dark skies, ensuring that as many of us as possible can enjoy them.

We’ll keep engaging with councils to manage their lighting and cut carbon, help wildlife and let us all enjoy those starry, starry skies.

Click here to read more CPRE Norfolk’s active dark skies campaign and the steps you can take to reduce light pollution.

Stay star-struck with us

Want to do your bit to help us work for velvety nocturnal vistas? We’d love to welcome you aboard as a CPRE Norfolk member.

From as little as £3 a month you can support our work for dark skies and bag yourself some great perks, such as discounts at outdoor clothing shops and reduced entry to attractions!

Become a CPRE Norfolk member

Family looking up at the while while mother points