Light Pollution

Light pollution from improper outdoor lighting wastes billions of dollars and vast quantities of natural resources annually. Starry Night Lights is committed to fighting light pollution and restoring our heritage of star-filled skies. We offer the widest selection of night sky friendly outdoor lighting for your home or business.

Mono Lake: a view of life…on Earth and beyond

Posted on December 3, 2010 by Noel

Article source

“Biochemist Felisa Wolfe-Simon didn’t know exactly what she would find when she led an expedition to Mono Lake, a body of water near Yosemite National Park that is rich in arsenic that leaches from nearby rocks.

A NASA astrobiology research fellow studying the evolution of life on Earth, she suspected that there might be an organism somewhere that could use arsenic instead of phosphorus in its cells — and it made sense that such a critter might be found in Mono Lake. Still, she was surprised to discover that the Mono Lake mud she carried back to the laboratory contained a microbe that seemed capable of the arsenic-phosphorus substitution.

Before this finding, reported online Thursday in the journal Science, scientists had believed that all life on Earth required phosphorus to thrive — and they assumed that life in outer space might need the element, as well.

Now, some say, they may have to adjust that thinking, and change the scope of their searches for life beyond Earth.

Incidentally, early reports about the Mono Lake microbe also set off a frenzy on the Web, where some speculated that NASA was poised to announce it had uncovered extraterrestrial life.”

Life exists outside the big six (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus) building blocks of life, for an arsenic life form has been discovered in Mono Lake, California. Arsenic, even in minute amounts, causes organic tissue failure in nearly all life forms, due to its highly toxic nature. Yet this life form in Mono Lake utilizes arsenic as part of its cellular structure. This is such a monumental discovery, as it crushes the preconceived notion of what constitutes the building blocks of life. To think, we’d find our first alien, here, on terrestrial Earth. Suddenly, our place in the universe became significantly smaller, as well as opening up nearly endless possibilities to finding other carbon and non carbon-based extraterrestrial life forms.

Let there be night!

Town Creek to hold stargazing program

Posted on November 27, 2010 by Noel

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“MOUNT GILEAD — Visitors can enjoy stargazing at one of the last dark-sky locations in the Piedmont region at Astronomy Night at Town Creek Indian Mount in Mount Gilead on Dec. 4, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The highlight of the night will be the Orion Nebula, found in the constellation Orion.

It will be peak viewing time as the constellation dominates the winter sky, since cold nights usually mean less turbulence in the atmosphere and better viewing conditions. Bring your telescopes or binoculars, and dress appropriately. The site telescope will be available also.

Reservations are required for this event. For information and reservations call (910) 439-6802.

Town Creek Indian Mound is located at 509 Town Creek Mound Road, Mount Gilead. It is within the Division of State Historic Sites of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social , cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available at www.ncculture.com.”

Star parties are an integral part of viewing the night sky for experienced and inexperienced star gazers alike. Not only do star parties encourage community, but they’re a wonderful opportunity to interact with other passionate individuals, relax with your family, and enjoy the terrestrial and extraterrestrial sights. If you haven’t been to one, I’d highly recommend you try to go to at least one. Whether in an open field, at a science observatory or a backyard, knowledgeable individuals can offer insights regarding the infinite heavens above and help make sense as to what you are viewing. If you’d want to experience the night sky with a professional, then I’d suggest to attend your local university astronomy department. There, you can expect to hear and receive guidance from academic professionals. In addition, you’ll most likely have the opportunity to utilize University astronomy equipment, otherwise difficult or impossible for the public to use. But then again, that is the great thing about stargazing. Anyone around the world can simply look up and watch. Although, there is a more sinister force out there, causing the night sky to vanish, called light pollution. Light pollution, simply put, is light escaping into the sky. Without proper shielding, light continues to freely pollute our skies worldwide. There is some good news though: light pollution is 100% reversible. We have the technology to eliminate light pollution, once and for all, but we continue to use outdated and ineffective lighting principles. Here at Starry Night Lights, we are committed to eradicating light pollution and educating the public around the world about its effects.

Let there be night!

Posted on November 25, 2010 by Noel

Article source

“The problem of obesity isn’t confined to just humans,” Livescience.com reports. “A new study finds increased rates of obesity in mammals ranging from feral rats and mice to domestic pets and laboratory primates. ‘We can’t explain the changes in [the animals’] body weight by the fact that they eat out at restaurants more often or the fact that they get less physical education in the schools,’ ” said lead study researcher David Allison of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “… There are several theories as to why animals and humans might be getting fatter. … Pathogens could be to blame: A virus called adenovirus 36 has been linked to obesity in both humans and animals. … The change could be something as simple as our increasingly artificial environments, Allison said. Light pollution and sleep disruption have been linked to obesity. It’s even possible that air conditioning and central heat are to blame.”

There’s some credence to the notion of linking light pollution with obesity: light helps regulate our bodies’ circadian rhythm or biological clock. If the said clock were disrupted, it’s possible that our bodies would experience changes in behavior and habits. For example, remember the advice from your parents regarding eating or drinking to late or else you’ll stay up? Of course, all of us do that all the time but if we do eat before going to bed, our bodies process food substantially slower at rest rather than when we’re awake. I think these ‘minor’ inconviences surmount to major biological problems: our body clocks being off, insufficient rest, variance in mood, unmanageable stress, depression, etc. Light pollution is quickly becoming a major problem for many inhabitants around the globe. Here at Starry Night Lights, we’re committed to completely eliminating light pollution and educating the public about light pollution.

Let there be night!

Leonid meteor shower to peak tonight

Posted on November 17, 2010 by Noel

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“The Leonid meteor shower — a yearly event that in the past has produced some spectacular displays — will peak Wednesday night, with about 15 meteors per hour expected.

To get a good look, Bay Area skywatchers will have to contend with an unhelpful moon, encroaching clouds and the usual light pollution.

Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the debris produced by a comet — in this case, the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Leonids appear to radiate from their namesake constellation, Leo, toward the north.

Occasionally Leonids reach the status of meteor storm, say the experts at NASA, with thousands of meteors per hour. A burst of Leonid activity produced spectacular displays from 1998 to 2002, but these events generally recur in cycles of about 33 years.

Wednesday night, the waxing gibbous moon, three days away from full, will interfere with viewing, and it won’t set until around 4 a.m. And at that point, predicted increasing cloudiness could hamper predawn skywatching.

(Weather note: The partly cloudy Thursday is a precursor to a wet weekend, with rain likely Friday night through Saturday nights, the National Weather Service says. The chance of precipitation will diminish Sunday and Monday, but cooler temperatures those nights — lows will dip into the 30s at higher elevations — mean the local mountaintops could get the season’s first dusting of snow.)

Even if the Leonids are a disappointment, meteor satisfaction might be just a few weeks away: The Geminids, which generally are among the best showers of the year, will peak on the night of Dec. 13, with about 50 meteors per hour predicted by the meteor-watching guide of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Time of optimal viewing is 2 a.m.”

This should be an exciting event for Bay Area sky gazers. The Leonid meteor showers are an annual, natural phenomenon that has been occuring for many, many years. Even if you can not witness this particular meteor shower, there are other meteor showers which occur throughout the year. The significance of viewing this event is simple: you are an advocate for darker skies. Sure, there is natural phenomenon which can obscure our view of the stars, but consider the human phenomenon, light pollution. Light pollution is 100% reversible. We have the tools to reverse this process, yet fumble to build a more sustainable dark sky. Inform your local and national representatives about the virtues of a darker sky: reduced energy consumption, improved circadian rhythm cycles, reduced risk of breast cancer and increased wildlife protection.

Let there be night!

Light up the night with updated porch fixtures

Posted on November 15, 2010 by Noel

“LOOK AT THE OPTIONS

Consider alternatives to clear glass. Textured glass, such as seeded, etched or rippled, along with opaque and coloured glass, are becoming more popular, says Bob Wilson of Wilson Lighting. “Texture adds to the look and feel of the fixture,” he says, and helps camouflage energy-efficient CFL bulbs and reduces glare, while amber light gives a warm glow.

Older eyes become more sensitive, and instead of providing safety, glare from a porch light can be detrimental when trying to navigate steps, says Jeff Dross, senior product manager at Kichler Lighting.

Go for energy efficiency. Easiest to do? Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps. “CFLs are generally very good until extreme cold hits with temperatures consistently at zero,” Dross says.

He finds exterior lighting a great place to use fluorescents, which offer the most light for your buck.

Keep the skies dark. The dark sky movement started a decade ago in western states to fight light pollution. “There’s a whole shift in how we light the out of doors,” says Tom Patterson, director of product development at Hinkley Lighting.

Instead of light leaking up and horizontally, the light from porch lights shines down, illuminating where you’re walking. The International Dark Sky Association even gives its seal of approval to lights that pass muster.

“You can do with one-third of wattage used,” Patterson says. “Tie it in with fluorescent, and the fixture is even more efficient while still safe and effective.”

Look for different metals. Porch lights were once polished brass, but that finish fails to weather well in some climates.

Aluminum has become a popular choice, and it can be painted different colours. Dross says he’s seeing more neutral-tone grays. Other popular metals are nickel and brushed nickel, stainless steel and dark bronze.

SIZE IT UP

The scale of the fixture is so important, says Shirley Allen, owner of the Light Shop in Kansas City, Mo. “Don’t under size. You need a grown-up fixture.”

Here are the rules of thumb:

For a single lantern, choose one that’s one-third the door height.

For two lanterns, choose fixtures that are around one-fourth the height of the door.

Mount the lanterns about 1.6 metres (66 inches) above the door’s threshold.

Your lanterns will look about half of their size when viewed from 15 metres (50 feet) away, so what may seem enormous in the showroom will appear just right from the street.

Remember, too, that although house size peaked in 2007, interior ceiling heights have increased, adding to the height of the home. Coupled with an oversized front door, that additional height calls for proportionately larger porch lights, says Jeff Dross, senior product manager at Kichler Lighting.”

Let there be night!

Nano-Injected Trees to Light Up the Night Sky

Posted on November 11, 2010 by Noel


“Tomorrow’s trees just might earn their keep by lighting up pedestrian pathways. (Photo: Fabrizo Bensch/Reuters)”

Article source

“Here’s an easy question.

In one fell swoop, how do you lower electricity costs, encourage a massive tree-planting program, cut C02 emissions, reduce light pollution in major cities, and light up the night sky like never before?

The answer is super obvious—you simply inject gold nano-particles into the leaves of trees, causing them to give off a luminous reddish glow.

The discovery occurred by accident, reports Earth Times. A Taiwanese scientist was trying to develop a less-toxic version of the efficient and increasingly-popular LED technology in use today.

Yen-Hsen Su, a post-doctoral student at the Research Center for Applied Science in Academia Sinica, Taiwan, implanted the gold nano-particles into the bacopa carolinian plant, inducing chlorophyl in the tree to color the leaves red.

“In the future, bio-LED could be used to make roadside trees luminescent at night. This will save energy and absorb CO2 as the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis,” said Su, to Chemistry World.

The discovery is still just that—a discovery. Don’t expect to do any night reading in the woods just yet.

Still, we’re all for any invention that compels mankind to keep trees where they belong—in the ground!”

What a novel idea. Assuming one could control the bio-LED luminescence output levels from these trees, then this could impact future urban developments worldwide. I cautiously embrace this idea, because of the ‘reduced light pollution‘ claim mentioned in the article. Modern lighting fixtures require proper shielding to effectively eliminate light pollution. Yet, if the bio-LED luminescence proved to be 100% effective at completely eliminating light pollution and after numerous scientific studies to demonstrate such a task, we may have a winner here. The pure ingenuity can not be denied, that’s for sure. Although, as to whether it can effectively and completely eliminate light pollution is another thing. Starry Night Lights is dedicated to completely eliminating light pollution worldwide. Period.

Let there be night!

Light up the night with updated porch fixtures

Posted on November 8, 2010 by Noel


Minka Lavery – Great Outdoors Large Wall Light $129.99

Article source

“KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The glow of a porch light does more than light up the night, providing safety and security. It’s a decorative element that adds to your home’s total look, and porch lights are evolving to reflect energy efficiency and light pollution concerns.

Here’s what local and national experts have to say about the latest in porch lights.

Consider alternatives to clear glass. Textured glass, such as seeded, etched or rippled, along with opaque and colored glass, are becoming more popular, says Bob Wilson of Wilson Lighting. “Texture adds to the look and feel of the fixture,” he says, and helps camouflage energy-efficient CFL bulbs and reduces glare, while amber light gives a warm glow.

Older eyes become more sensitive, and instead of providing safety, glare from a porch light can be detrimental when trying to navigate steps, says Jeff Dross, senior product manager at Kichler Lighting.

Go for energy efficiency. Easiest to do? Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps. “CFLs are generally very good until extreme cold hits with temperatures consistently at zero,” Dross says.

He finds exterior lighting a great place to use fluorescents, which offer the most light for your buck.

Keep the skies dark. The dark sky movement started a decade ago in western states to fight light pollution. “There’s a whole shift in how we light the out of doors,” says Tom Patterson, director of product development at Hinkley Lighting.

Instead of light leaking up and horizontally, the light from porch lights shines down, illuminating where you’re walking. The International Dark Sky Association even gives its seal of approval to lights that pass muster.

“You can do with one-third of wattage used,” Patterson says. “Tie it in with fluorescent, and the fixture is even more efficient while still safe and effective.”

Look for different metals. Porch lights were once polished brass, but that finish fails to weather well in some climates.

Aluminum has become a popular choice, and it can be painted different colors. Dross says he’s seeing more neutral-tone grays. Other popular metals are nickel and brushed nickel, stainless steel and dark bronze.”

Starry Night Lights offers a variety of shielded lighting fixtures for any style and budget. These not only help direct the light downward, but make your home a better investment for the future. Even better, if you use motion sensor lighting fixtures, one can reduce their energy consumption even more as well as help improve their home security system. Really, it’s a win-win situation. You, as the consumer, have the greatest power of all: choice. Do the research, find the facts and work out the best solution for your home. Starry Night Lights will continue to fight the good fight against light pollution and will always advocate for darker, more pristine skies!

Let there be night!

Aurora Borealis lights up Iceland

Posted on November 3, 2010 by Noel


Photographer Kristjan Unnar Kristjansson has spent the last nine years capturing the Aurora Borealis. Picture: Kiddi Kristjans/Barcroft Pacific

Article source

“The Aurora Borealis light display, particularly visible in polar regions, is usually observed at night where it illuminates the northern horizon as a greenish or red glow.Kristján Unnar Kristjansson went to extraordinary lengths over the last nine years to capture the amazing light show in all its glory. The 31-year-old says he often drives to remote, light-pollution free locations to get the best view. This often means he drives around 10,000-15,000 kilometres for the perfect shot – but it’s worth it.”No words can properly describe the experience,” Mr Kristjansson told the UK’s Telegraph.

“Even though I’ve seen them now and again throughout my life, I’m still awe-inspired and flabbergasted every time they show up.” Mr Kristjansson said that taking a good Aurora Borealis snap is difficult. “It is really hard capturing them, as they require bright lenses, highly photosensitive cameras, warm clothes and a whole lot of luck,” he said. The light displays are best observed at night, away from light sources. However, he says the effort is well worth it as no other natural phenomenon compares to experiencing the northern light first-hand.

“I recommend that everybody should try to visit Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Alaska or any other northern-latitude country for this purpose alone,” he said. The Aurora Borealis is named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek word for the north wind, Boreas.”

Truly, a remarkable photo. Once you’ve seen an Aurora borealis, it will forever leave a mark upon you. Regrettably, many inhabitants in the Northern Hemisphere are missing out on this marvelous spectacle due to increased levels of light pollution. If current lighting trends continue, numerous scientific studies predict a much brighter future for us all. Light pollution is 100% reversible. Period. We have the technology and the materials to eliminate light pollution, once and for all, but costs, poor lighting principles and implementation set us back. I’m aware this may sound strange, but I look forward towards a more darker future.

Let there be night!

Meteor Shower Tonight October 2010 – Witness Peak of Orionids

Posted on October 22, 2010 by Noel

Meteor Shower Tonight October 2010 – The Orionids, the most prolific meteor shower associated with Halley’s comet, is expected to peak tonight. They are called such since their radiant, the point they appear to come from, lies in the constellation Orion. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said that in the last three years, the Orionids meteor shower has produced more that 60 meteors per hour creating a “fireworks” show.

The Orionids meteor shower generally begin on October 15 and end on October 29, with its peak occurring during the morning hours of October 20-22. It is more visible in the Northern Hemisphere than on the Southern Hemisphere. If you want to witness the Orionids Meteor Shower tonight, the best time is after 11 p.m. Look to the East, towards the constellation of Orion. Be sure to take a spot where the skies are clear with no disturbing city lights and wear warm dresses to comfort you since the night is cold.

You don’t need any binoculars or telescope since the naked eye is usually best for seeing meteors. Orionids move very fast, with a tremendous spped of 147,300 mph. At such speed, the meteors don’t last long, burning up very high in the atmosphere. So don’t forget to look up in the sky tonight and let us know if you have witnessed these meteor shower later.

This should be a good one!

Let there be night!

Light Pollution Erases the Stars From Urban Night Skies

Posted on October 18, 2010 by Noel

Article source


“Which night sky do you fall under?” (Photo: Courtesy of Stellarium)

“If you happen to inhabit a major metropolitan city—say Los Angeles—you might see a passing airplane or a spotlight for some distant movie premiere.

What you probably won’t see are any of the 400 billion stars populating the night sky.

A 2008 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy estimated that, in 2007, stationary outdoor lighting consumed more than 178 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.”

It’s true. ‘Excellent dark sky sites’ are quickly becoming increasingly rare around the world. As population increases, light pollution increases. Unless lighting principles are changed, the darkness of the night sky will continue to diminish. One small change to a light’s design can single-handedly eliminate light pollution: shielded fixtures. How? Shielded liht fixtures direct the light downward, where it is needed the most. Traditional lights possess no such design and thus, emit unnecessary amounts of light into the sky and require significantly more energy to power. Combining energy efficient light bulbs with shielded fixtures and motion-sensors, creates a perfect balance of decreased energy consumption, increased security and low maintenance. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Let there be night!

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