ALMOST half the people taking part in a recent night sky survey in Dorset counted ten stars or fewer.

The Star Count study organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) also revealed that 'truly dark skies', where more than 30 stars can be counted, were only visible with the naked eye to 2.2 per cent of the county's stargazers.

Nationally more than 2,400 people took part in the survey, which the CPRE says shows severe light pollution – where less than ten stars can be counted in the night sky – has increased since last year. Participants were asked to count the number of stars visible in the Orion constellation.

CPRE chief executive Crispin Truman said: "Gazing up at the heavens can inspire and help lift our spirits, especially when many of us are forced to do so from within our homes at the moment.

"It is a shame that few of us can see the starry skies in all their glory, without the intrusion of light pollution."

The CPRE and the British Astronomical Association's Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS) is urging local councils to act on light pollution so more people can enjoy the night sky.

Dorset resident Bob Mizon, who also sits on the CfDS, said: "It is wonderful to hear about families having fun doing the Star Count.

"Children should be able to see the Milky Way, their own galaxy, by looking up at the sky, not looking online."

The CPRE says the results of this citizen science survey, carried out annually, suggest that across the UK, 61 per cent of people live in areas with severe light pollution. This represents a rise from last year, when 57 per cent of people taking part were in these areas.

Mr Crispin said: "We’d like to see councils adopting better policies in local plans to tackle light pollution and protect and enhance our darkest skies, where people can still experience the wonder of a star filled night sky.

"There are straightforward steps councils can take, in consultation with local people, that don’t just reduce light pollution but save energy and money too."

Visit for a map showing the results of the Star Count 2020.