The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has a wonderful website, which highlights the organisation’s campaign to protect Britain’s towns and countryside for future generations whilst making them wonderful places to live and work and their latest efforts concentrate on light pollution, where too much artificial light interferes with the night sky and makes it hard to see.

Star Count 2013 is a truly fun part of this latest effort and is a national survey by the CPRE which involves going out after dark and counting the number of stars you can see within the four corner points of the Orion constellation – the great hunter (the CPRE website gives you more information on exactly where to find Orion). The best part is, you don’t even need a telescope – you can use your peepers and it’s the perfect night time activity for kids – there’s nothing more exciting for a little person than being out at night, tasked with the role of explorer and star counter….

Organised with the British Astronomical Association, the cosmic census is taking place from Friday 8 – Saturday 16 February, and if you fill in the on line survey you’re in with a chance of winning a truly awesome AstroMaster Series telescope! But don’t worry if you don’t get first prize, because there are other giveaways too, like the Stargazers’ Almanac 2013, for ten lucky runners up.

Whether you’re out to win the telescope, have one of your own, or just like to look at the night sky from the comfort of your windowsill, the website Stellarium (an open source planetarium), is not to be missed and we thought we’d add it in as it fitted the topic of this post nicely. By entering your postcode, Stellarium, once downloaded, will tell you exactly which stars are out on any given night, right above your house. How cool is that?

So why not get star-gazing, have some fun and help the environment out at the same time?