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!

  • From 6-14 February, CPRE, the countryside charity will call on people to count stars from their garden or window as part of its annual nationwide star count
  • Data will be compared to 2020 to see whether lockdown had an impact and be used for vital lobbying efforts for darker skies
  • Participants from Cumbria needed to help map the night sky

People living in Cumbria are being urged to take part in an annual Star Count to record our view of the night sky. CPRE, the countryside charity is working with the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies to find indications of light pollution levels across the country.

By counting the number of stars they see in the Orion constellation, citizen scientists will help map the best and worst places in England to enjoy a star-filled night sky. The results will indicate whether Cumbria suffers from severe light pollution, of which 61% of last year’s participants did.

They will also be compared with 2020’s findings, gathered before coronavirus restrictions took hold, to see whether lockdown has had an impact.

Light pollution means many people only experience a limited view of the night sky, and it also disrupts wildlife’s natural patterns. By showing where people’s views are most affected by light pollution, CPRE can use this evidence in crucial lobbying efforts to protect and enhance the skies of Cumbria, improving our health, wellbeing, wildlife and the environment.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, which local charity Friends of the Lake District represents in Cumbria, 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’.

Bob Mizon, UK coordinator of the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies, said:

‘Turning back the tide of light pollution brings darker night skies and improvements to the well-being of humans, wildlife and the environment. In its three decades of working with the CPRE towards these goals, we have seen increased public and Parliamentary awareness of the importance of our view of the universe above.

‘The CPRE Star Count is an important part of this work, especially in these abnormal times when we have a chance to see whether changes in our activities are having any positive effect on the atmosphere and our view of the night sky.’

Organisations across the country are supporting this year’s Star Count, including popular amateur astronomy group Go Stargazing. Set up by space enthusiast Neill Sanders, Go Stargazing are strong advocates for protecting our night skies and supported several Dark Sky Park/Reserve accreditations from the International Dark Sky Association.

Friends of the Lake District is leading, with other partners and supporters, a project to improve dark skies in Cumbria. We’re passionate about celebrating and safeguarding Cumbria’s amazing dark skies. As part of this it is holding an online dark skies events festival next month, celebrating the wonders of the night sky. In 17 events over three weeks in February, astronomers, astrophotographers, authors, filmmakers, lighting and design professionals, performers, poets and outdoor adventurers will engage, enthral, wow and challenge us to think about darkness in a new light. Make a date in your diaries - the Cumbria Dark Skies Festival is open for bookings via: www.darkskiescumbria.org.uk

For more about Friends of the Lake District’s work, the Dark Skies project, and Festival see: www.darkskiescumbria.org.uk

Cumbria Dark Skies Festival 2021 is a partnership of Friends of the Lake District, Cumbria Tourism, Forestry England and the Lake District National Park.

About Star Count

Star Count is an annual citizen science project from CPRE, the countryside charity and the British Astronomical Association. From 6-14 February 2021, the public are asked to look heavenwards during a clear night and count how many stars within Orion they can spot.

Results from Star Count will help make a map of where star-spotters are enjoying deep, dark skies and where people’s views are affected by light pollution. By showing on a map where light pollution is most serious, we can work nationally and with local councils and others to decide what to do about it

This year we’re asking everyone to take part from home - people can stargaze from their garden, balcony, doorstep or even bedroom window.

For more information, go to: www.cpre.org.uk/starcount