Dark Skies Cumbria

Saving Our Night Skies

Cumbria's dark skies allow us to see the natural wonder of the stars, but are also critical for the health wildlife and our own natural well-being. Sadly light pollution in Cumbria is increasing each year, threatening to obscure our view of the stars and blinding and confusing animals so they can’t feed or find a mate. We need urgent action now to stop light pollution. Stargazers, photographers, wildlife lovers and local communities… please help.


Or you can give by text to 70085. Just message DARKSKIES along with your chosen donation amount (eg DARKSKIES 5 to donate £5). Standard message rates apply.

The Lake District and Cumbria offers some of the most spectacular and precious skyscapes in England and we want you to join us on an interstellar adventure. Download our Dark Sky Discovery Pack and get started today!

Update 8th March 2024

Annual Star Count February 2024 – the cloudy low pressure conditions meant that very few people were able to carry out this year’s Star Count in the Orion Constellation, but many thanks for those of you in the north of the county who managed to take part.

6th February to 16th February 2024

To celebrate our starry skies and to help to protect and improve our view of the stars, Friends of the Lake District is inviting residents and visitors in Cumbria to be ‘citizen scientists’ and take part in a Cumbria Star Count 2024 from 6th to 16th February 2024 – a cosmic census that will help map our view of the stars and the impact of light pollution across the county. 

How to take part in the Cumbria Star Count  (download instructions)

Dark starry skies are a beautiful sight, and a distinctive feature of the countryside. But too often, light pollution means that many of us can’t see the stars. Light pollution impacts our experience of the natural wonder of the night sky, blurs the distinction between town and countryside, and disrupts wildlife. 

In the national CPRE 2023 star count, 51% of participants counted 10 stars or fewer in the constellation of Orion, indicating severe light pollution while only 5% experienced truly dark skies. Dark skies are also important for the health and wellbeing of people and animals. Too much artificial light can impact our sleep, disrupt nature’s natural cycles and confuse wildlife.

How to take part in Star Count

What you need to do:

  1. From about 7pm onwards (when it would be darker) let your eyes adjust to the darkness – we recommend at least 20 minutes.
  2. Do the Star Count with the naked eye (not binoculars etc). Once your eyes have adjusted to the darkness, look up to find Orion the hunter. Look south and find the three bright stars in a row that form his belt.

Find the bright orange star on the top left of Orion, then the blue-white one on the bottom right. Then look for the other two that form a rectangle around the constellation.

3. Count the stars within the rectangle, but don’t include the four corner stars.

4. Submit your count using the online form

Handy tips: Five ways to make your Star Count sparkle - CPRE

Find out more about the Dark Skies Cumbria Project.

Photo above – Milky Way over Crummock by John Macfarlane