Why we need your help
Every year the British Astronomical Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England organise a nationwide star count, but this year is particularly special. Between Wednesday February 26th and Saturday March 8th is National Astronomy Week – the first one since 2009 – and this is your opportunity to get involved!
It's also a chance to help us build a better understanding of the state of the night sky in the High Weald – an important first step in mapping light pollution and conserving the region's dark skies.
More on National Astronomy Week and events near you
Find out how dark the sky is in your area - what you need to do!
You don't need any specialist knowledge or equipment to take part in the star count, just your eyes and five spare minutes to go outside and enjoy the beautiful night sky!
Download the Star Count 2014 Instructions from the CPRE website.
Find out about the High Weald School Star Count 2014.
What are dark skies and why are they important?
Dark skies, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "places where the darkness of the night sky is relatively free of interference from artificial light", are becoming increasingly scarce due to light pollution (the image above shows how brilliant our own Milky Way galaxy should look in an area completely free of light pollution).
However, the loss of truly dark skies isn't only bad for astronomers. It denies every one of us the opportunity to experience an important part of our natural and cultural heritage – the majesty of the night sky. As the International Dark-Sky Association puts it:
"A lost view of the stars extinguishes a connection with the natural world and blinds us to one of the most splendid wonders in the universe. Children who grow up without the experience of a starry night miss invaluable opportunities to speculate about larger questions and to learn about the environment and larger world."
More about Dark Skies and their importance: