Why more of us are seeing stars: Lack of light pollution from pubs and restaurants during lockdown is a boon for skygazers
- Study found 1 in 20 counting stars at home could see more than 30 in dark areas
- A countryside charity conducted study with 8,000 participants counting stars
- It found 49% of participants could spot more than 10 stars in Orion constellation
- This is up from 39% at beginning of last year before the pandemic and lockdown
Stars have been more visible during the pandemic because night-time light pollution has fallen with the closure of shops, restaurants and pubs, a study suggests.
A nationwide star count by the countryside charity CPRE found 49 per cent of participants could spot more than ten stars in the Orion constellation in February.
This is up from 39 per cent at the beginning of last year before the pandemic.
One in 20 counting stars from home could see more than 30 in the darkest areas.
The results of the star count, which involved almost 8,000 people, are the best in eight years.
The findings were released yesterday as International Dark Skies Week began.
Seeing stars: A study has found that stars have been more visible during the pandemic because night-time light pollution has fallen with the closure of shops, restaurants and pubs
CPRE chief Crispin Truman said the fall in light pollution was ‘an unintended positive consequence of lockdown’.
Light pollution is bad for health, disrupting people’s sleep, and damaging for wildlife, with migrating birds becoming disoriented by it because they use the stars and moon to navigate.
Mr Truman added: ‘I’m delighted to see severe light pollution in the UK appears to have fallen… Let’s hope we can hold on to some of this achievement as we come out of lockdown.’
It is International Dark Skies Week and experts have called on businesses to tackle light pollution by pointing lights downward, shielding glare, using warmer coloured bulbs and off-timers.
Lights could also be turned off in unoccupied offices.
The study found a quarter of people who counted stars in London during the coronavirus lockdown spotted more than 10 in Orion (pictured), up from around one in eight last year
CPRE found a quarter of people who counted stars in London during the lockdown spotted more than 10 in Orion, up from around one in eight last year.
Air pollution has also fallen during the pandemic, with carbon dioxide emissions reduced by more than a tenth last year, based on provisional figures.
Ruskin Hartley, executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association, said: ‘We believe that solving the problem of light pollution begins with knowing the problem exists.
‘For many people, participating in Star Count during lockdown may have, for the first time in a long while, have been their first encounter with a dark night sky.’