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Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Monday, 31 January 2011
Mark Thompson TV astronomer backs CPRE Star Count Week
Orion (detail) (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Johnny Horne)
The CPRE believes light pollution affects around 80% of people

Norfolk's TV astronomer Mark Thompson is backing research to see how light pollution is affecting the sky.

Star Count Week, run by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), is asking people from around the country to plot what they can see in the sky at night.

The results can then pinpoint the areas worst affected by artificial light.

"Light pollution is a big, big problem in the UK," said Mark, who was watched by 3.62m people on BBC Two's Stargazing Live in January.

"Fortunately in Norfolk it's quite a rural county... having a look up at the sky when you're out and about at night time there's some incredible sights to be seen," he added.

Star Count Week runs from 31 January to 6 February 2011, and it is asking people to spend a few minutes on one clear evening counting the stars they can see in the constellation of Orion, found to the west.

By plotting the naked-eye results and submitting them online, a map can be produced to work out what areas in our county and the country need better management of human light sources.

"It's an ongoing campaign on a common cause which is to try and reduce light pollution," said David Hook from CPRE Norfolk.

Mark Thompson, BBC One Show astronomer
Mark's astronomy skills are a regular feature on BBC TV

"It not only ruins our view of the night sky but also from a rural campaigner's point of view suburbanises landscapes and introduces elements of urban Britain deep into the heart of the rural countryside in an unpleasant, unsightly way.

"Twenty percent of energy usage in the United Kingdom is lighting. I'm convinced that we can reduce that amount by at least 40% without anyone suffering," he added.

"One of the important messages is we're not all about turning every light off, it's about the efficient use of lights - absolutely you still need lights for safety, but lets think about efficiently using them," said Mark.

According to a CPRE survey with the British Astronomical Association in 2010, 83% of respondents had been affected by light pollution, with 50% saying their sleep had been disrupted.

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