Skip to content

Too many stars - a nice problem to have!

Mike Cushing
By Mike Cushing

Photography volunteer Mike Cushing compares the light-polluted skies of urban Lancashire with the dark skies of the Kielder Forest

Like many of us, my star gazing has been mainly limited to viewing from my garden . Light pollution in all our towns and cities is a constant barrier to really seeing the stars so we were really pleased when we were invited to spend two nights in a shepherd’s hut (happily with heating and a working bathroom!) in Northumberland’s Kielder Forest – a dedicated “Dark Sky Park”.

CPRE have been trying to get us all “star counting”, asking people to count the stars in the constellation Orion so that we can compare the picture across the country. For me, from our garden, that normally means we can see the three stars in his belt and that is pretty much it. Our problem in Northumberland was that we struggled to count all the stars we could see in Orion as the skies were simply bursting with stars and it was, for a total amateur like me, hard to define which stars were “in Orion” and which were, well, just there.

Orion | Mike Cushing


Perhaps the photograph above will demonstrate! Firstly, can you spot Orion? Secondly, I hope you’ll see what I mean when I talk about how difficult it was to then identify his stars!

On our second night, we had the most marvellous bonus of a brief appearance of the Northern Lights. I’ll leave the description to the photograph I took (below)….

The Northern Lights from Kielder Forest | Mike Cushing
Orion Mike Cushing