SOMERSET residents are being encouraged to take part in a nationwide 'Star Count' to record our view of the night sky.

CPRE, the countryside charity, is calling on people to count stars from their window or garden, between February 6-14.

The charity is working with the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies, to find indications of light pollution levels across the country.

Data will then be compared to 2020's findings to see whether the Covid-19 lockdowns have an impact, and to lobby for action on light pollution.

By counting the number of stars they see in the Orion constellation, citizen scientists can help map the best and worst places in England to enjoy a star-filled night sky.

The results will indicate whether Somerset suffers from severe light pollution, as 61 per cent of last year’s participants across the country did.

Light pollution means many people only experience a limited view of the night sky, and it also disrupts wildlife’s natural patterns.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: "A starry night sky is one of the most magical sights the countryside can offer, connecting us to the nature we all love and the wonders of the wider universe.

"Dark skies are also crucial for our health and for that of wildlife.

"Lockdown and the coronavirus have reminded us about how good for us the countryside can be.

"But many places suffer from light pollution, bleaching out the night sky. We want to change this.

"By taking part in Star Count, people will be contributing to citizen science, helping us to lobby the government for more protection of this too often overlooked, but vital, part of our countryside."

Chris Lewis, the CPRE Somerset chairman, said: "Somerset is blessed in having some excellent dark sky areas, including Exmoor National Park and parts of the Quantock Hills, Blackdown Hills, Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels.

"In other areas, it is harder to see the stars due to night pollution.

"This year we hope to get more people than ever doing Star Count from home, so we can build a picture of where the problems are and what we might all be able to do to help."