Join the hunt for Orion over the Peak District

STARGAZERS are being asked to look out for Orion the hunter in the night sky over the Peak District from March 10-17 after cloudy weather impeded last month’s survey.

The Peak District Dark Skies Group is asking people to help monitor the impact of light pollution by finding out how brightly they can see the distinctive constellation of Orion.

The aim is to scout out the best, darkest locations for star-gazing in the Peak District National Park and its surrounding areas.

People are asked to go to the website www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/darkskies to find instructions and charts to download.

To take part in the survey they should go outside after 8pm on a clear night between March 10 and 17 to spot Orion, with its distinctive “belt” of three bright stars in a line, with a smaller three-star “sword” below.

Then they need to match what they see with a series of star charts of varying brightness. Finally they should send their findings, with location, time and date, back to the website.

Light pollution is artificial light – street-lights, floodlights, security lights – which spoils our view of the stars, interrupts our sleep, and often wastes energy.

The Peak District, with its uninhabited uplands and deep valleys in the centre of the country is one of the more accessible places to find a dark, star-studded sky. Surprise View, near Hathersage, was recently identified as a Dark Sky Discovery Site on BBC2’s Stargazing LIVE programme.

The Peak District Dark Skies Group includes the Peak District National Park Authority, Nottingham Trent University, and the Macclesfield Astronomical Society, Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society, White Peak Observing Group, Sheffield Astronomical Society, North Staffs Astronomical Society and Chesterfield Astronomical Society.