Now’s the most effective time to stargaze within the UK since 2011, in accordance with the outcomes of a brand new citizen science survey led by the countryside charity CPRE. Gentle air pollution within the UK has dropped to its lowest ranges since CPRE started its annual examine greater than a decade in the past.
Gentle air pollution peaked in 2020 (earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing) after which dipped final yr as workplaces shuttered in the course of the pandemic. Since then, CPRE says gentle air pollution has continued to drop as extra folks proceed to make money working from home and hovering power costs in Europe push households to chop down on lighting prices.
Annually, CPRE enlists the assistance of citizen scientists for a “Star Depend.” This yr, greater than 2,500 individuals counted the variety of stars they noticed within the night time sky of their space between February twenty sixth and March sixth. They have been requested to search for stars inside the Orion constellation, recognizable for the three brilliant stars that make up Orion’s belt. “Extreme” gentle air pollution, as CPRE defines it, happens when 10 or fewer stars will be seen with the bare eye.
Again in 2020, 61 % of individuals reported extreme gentle air pollution. By 2021, stories of extreme gentle air pollution dropped by 10 %. That determine continued to fall this yr, with 49 % of individuals experiencing extreme gentle air pollution.
Vibrant synthetic gentle can pose massive issues for animals. It could spoil the temper for frogs and fireflies that mate at night time. It would throw off coyotes’ communication; they howl extra when skies are darker. And a few birds depend upon the moon and stars to seek out their manner whereas in flight.
Analysis has additionally proven that brilliant night time lights can negatively have an effect on people, suppressing melatonin and interfering with our sleep rhythms. On the flip aspect, stargazing can simply be enjoyable and stress-free.
For a lot of of these causes, CPRE has advocated for adjustments to chop down gentle air pollution. Workplaces can flip off their lights at night time, CPRE says, and metropolis councils will be extra strategic about lighting streets solely the place wanted. As a bonus, these measures may also trim power payments and scale back different kinds of air pollution.
“The excellent news is that these outcomes [of the Star Count] present small variations could make an enormous distinction,” CPRE darkish skies campaigner Emma Marrington mentioned in as we speak’s announcement.
CPRE additionally has a useful map on its web site that exhibits which spots within the UK have probably the most gentle air pollution and the place stargazers can nab the most effective views of the night time sky.