Chris Packham is urging the public to spend 20 minutes counting stars to help build a crucial national database mapping light pollution.
The broadcaster is backing a campaign by CPRE, the countryside charity to rewild the night sky to restore truly dark natural habitats for threatened wildlife.
Light pollution and animals
Artificial light pollution is one of the biggest threats to nocturnal creatures, many of which have suffered sharp population declines.
Manmade light is known to cause confusion to migrating birds, often with fatal outcomes. It interrupts natural rhythms, including the reproduction, feeding and sleeping patterns of pollinating insects, bats and nocturnal animals.
Two-thirds of invertebrates are partially or wholly nocturnal, and even daytime species can be severely impacted by the loss of a dark night sky.
Research has shown light pollution can reduce fruit production, with visits to flowers by nocturnal pollinators, such as moths, beetles and flies, down by 62% in one study.
Join the Star Count
CPRE is asking as many people as possible to take part in its annual Star Count, taking place 17-24 February.
By simply counting the number of stars visible to the naked eye in the Orion constellation, the public makes a vital contribution to building a nationwide picture of the state of our night sky.
The results will help pinpoint the country’s most pristine skies and the areas most badly affected by light pollution.
‘We have many grave concerns about things which are impacting negatively upon our wildlife and they all urgently need addressing. One which is unfortunately relatively frequently overlooked is light pollution. Light pollution can be a real nuisance. It can interrupt animals’ behaviour and drastically disrupt their ecology, particularly nocturnal species like bats and moths. And that’s why CPRE, the countryside charity, is organising Star Count.
‘This is a great piece of citizen science where me and you can gaze into the night sky and count the number of stars which are visible to us in the constellation of Orion. This is stargazing made easy and you don’t even need a telescope.’
Environmentalist and broadcaster
Dark skies and health
Strengthened national and local planning policy is required to ensure we get well-designed lighting that is only used when and where it is needed.
Light pollution disrupts wildlife. It also robs people of the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the stars and reduces an often-forgotten connection to nature.