Join the Star Count 2021
This easy lockdown activity totally counts towards home school. Or, a super romantic thing to do together. Bonus if you live near any of Cornwall's top star gazing sites, but any view of the sky will work.
Cornwall may not have many shopping centres but it more than makes up for it with dark skies. This means you’ll find it much easier to join in from your window, balcony or garden – but, if you live near any of Cornwall’s top star gazing locations, perhaps you could take your daily walk just after dark and see how many stars you can spot.
Cornwall’s top five spots for star gazing
The best sites are as far as possible from artificial pollution (that’s the towns, basically) so there’s plenty of Cornwall to choose from. You also, ideally, want somewhere higher up so you have a larger/wider horizon.
Carnewas (Bedruthan Steps)
Officially accredited with Dark Sky Discovery status in 2014 (alongside St Agnes) by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) back in 2014, these sites are given the status on the basis of being “accessible and free enough from light pollution to get a good view of the stars”.
St Agnes and Chapel Porth
Both St Agnes and Carnewas are National Trust sites on the north coast, meaning they fulfil the criteria of accessibility and face out away from the land, over the water into the Atlantic, so you can see the stars across the darkness of the sea.
Bodmin Moor is not just an area of outstanding beauty (AONB), it has also been designated an International Dark Sky Landscape by the International Dark-Sky Association. Thanks to very low levels of light pollution, it means Bodmin Moor has some of the darkest skies in the country.
If you’re in West Cornwall, Godolphin Hill has amazing 360 degree clear views. Probably one for teens or more committed stargazers.
The Lizard Point – Kynance Cove
The beauty of a coastal county is that almost any high point of coastline facing out to see is going to give you a good view on a clear night. Star gazers from Cornwall’s Roseland Observatory note that there are proposed Dark Sky areas around Lands’ End, The Lizard, and the Isles of Scilly – and recommend Kynance Cove as a good spot if you’re on the south coast.
Top Tips from CPRE for your Star Count:
- Remember that we’re counting stars from 6-14 February 2021, so choose a night!
- Keep an eye on the weather forecasts for the week ahead. Remember: your safety and health are the most important things, so stay at home for your star counting this year.
- Pick the clearest night for your count, with no haze or clouds, then wait until after 7pm so that the sky is really dark. Turn off all the lights in your house, too, to make it easier to see the stars.
- Looking south into the night sky, find the Orion constellation, with its four corners and ‘belt’.
- Take a few moments to let your eyes adjust, then count the number of stars you can see within the rectangle formed by the four corner stars. You can count the three stars in the middle – the belt – but not the corner stars.
- Make a note of the number of stars seen with the naked eye (not with telescopes or binoculars) and then submit your count here.
- Share your experiences (and any photos) with others on social media using #StarCount
- And don’t forget to check back here in the spring to see the national results and how your area compares to the rest of the country.