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.

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!

10,000 Birds Trapped In the World Trade Center Light Beams

Posted on September 17, 2010 by Noel

Image credit: Robert Bejarano

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“This is a view of the 9/11 memorial lights. There’s something floating in them, gliding slowly with an eerie glow, giving them the look of unearthly portals to another dimension. Spooky, but it has a natural explanation.

They were thousands of birds, trapped into the beams, confused by the intense light while trying to go over New York City, en route to warmer climates. The birds saw the intense light from the distance and, lacking any other navigational reference in the sky, they went into it.

According to John Rowden, citizen science director at the Audubon Society’s New York chapter, “it has only happened once before. It’s a confluence of circumstances that come together to cause this. Some of it has to do with meteorological conditions, and some with the phase of the moon.”

About 10,000 birds were estimated to enter the beams, wasting time and energy that now can’t be used in their migratory trip. From the ground, people were surprised and confused by the display. Nobody could tell what the swarm of glowing points were. Ornithology experts recorded the bird voices, as they called in the middle of the night.

To liberate the birds, the NYC authorities had to turn off the beams five times over the night. By dawn, on September 12, all the birds were gone, on their way to their winter promised land.”

What a royal mess. If we are to learn anything from this event, it is proof that light pollution detrimentally affects wildlife. For if it weren’t for NYC authorities shutting down the beams multiple times, the birds would have remained trapped until the morning. Call it stupidity, if you wish, but these creatures have a natural propensity to use [un]natural light sources to guide them on their yearly migration. Sure, you could say this incident was clearly a ‘at the wrong place, at the wrong time’ kind of situation but consider the outcome carefully. If we continue to illuminate the sky at night, similar incidents such as this one are unavoidable. If we eradicate light pollution, we can reclaim the night sky.

Let there be night!

Researcher receives award for shedding light on bat conservation

Posted on September 13, 2010 by Noel

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“A PhD student from the University of Bristol has received a national award for her research investigating the impact of artificial lighting on bats.

Emma Stone, a researcher in the University’s School of Biological Sciences, has received the Vincent Weir Scientific Award for her research, which has made a significant contribution in bat conservation.

The Vincent Weir Scientific Award, hosted by the Bat Conservation Trust, aims to reward and encourage research on the conservation biology of bats by young researchers and to recognise The Hon. Vincent Weir’s major contributions to the field.

Emma’s work, a bats and lighting project, focuses on the ecological effect of artificial lighting and its impact on the foraging and commuting behaviour of bats. A topic of increasing concern, recent estimates have shown a 24 per cent increase in light pollution in the UK between 1993 and 2000.

As part of the research, Emma launched an online survey to find out what the public feel about street lighting in their area. As with many conservation issues the impacts of lighting on wildlife involve interactions between humans and the environment.”

Congratulations on a job well done, Emma Stone! Your research is a welcomed addition to the study of the effects of light pollution on bats. Starry Night Lights wishes you the best and we know you’ll continue fighting the good fight!

Let there be night!

Light obscures our largest natural resource: the night sky

Posted on August 30, 2010 by Noel

Article and image source.

“Members of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) believe that the nighttime environment is a resource that must be preserved and protected like any other natural resource. Excessive light, they say, has adverse effects on both the environment and human health. It wastes energy and causes water and air pollution due to the generation of electricity. Using statistics from the Department of Energy, IDA estimates that the United States loses $10.4 billion a year on wasteful lighting. It also harms nocturnal wildlife and ecosystems that rely on the 24-hour cycle to regulate themselves.

Migrating birds can be disoriented by artificial lighting, causing them to crash into buildings. Depending on the weather, tens of thousands of birds might fly over a city in one night. In one night, a hundred birds might be killed on a single building. Chicago was the first U.S. city to initiate a “Lights Out” program in 2002 in an effort to reduce the mortality rate. It continues to encourage building owners and residents to dim their lighting and draw their blinds after 11 pm during the spring and fall seasons.

Birds aside, human safety is a major concern. If we turn out the lights, won’t criminals take advantage of the cover of darkness? Few studies have been conducted on the effect of night-lights and safety, but the results have proved inconclusive with little evidence to support the idea that increased lighting leads to decreased crime. The National Institute of Justice released a report to the U.S. Congress in 1997 called “Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising.” In the sections titled Conclusions for Open Urban Places, it states that the effectiveness of lighting is unknown.”

There will always be a need for lighting at night. That’s indisputable. What’s disputable is how we choose to light our night sky. Folks, without shielded lighting fixtures, light escapes into the sky. That means, the more unshielded lights we have, the more polluted the sky will be. For many, it’s just a fact of life: the city offers many attractions, day and night, whereas, the countryside offers a more pastoral, quiet landscape-free from the hustle and bustle. But this fact is based on a dynamic that shouldn’t exist. In fact, people from all over the world, regardless of location, could enjoy pristine skies. Imagine seeing the Milky Way Galaxy from London, Tokyo, Seoul, Munich, New York, Los Angeles, et al. It’s possible if governments and its people choose to shield their light fixtures. Unlike most environmental problems, light pollution is 100% reversible-we could have darker skies worldwide within days. So why hasn’t this happen? Perhaps, lack of evidence, financial cuts or ignorance? Regardless of the excuse, shielded lighting eliminates light pollution. Period.

Let there be night!

Uptake of LED’s May Not Lead to a Reduction in Power Consumption

Posted on August 24, 2010 by Noel

“Solid-state lighting pioneers long have held that replacing the inefficient Edison light bulb with more efficient solid-state light-emitting devices (LEDs) would lower electrical usage worldwide, not only “greenly” decreasing the need for new power plants but even permitting some to be decommissioned.

But, in a paper published Thursday in the Journal of Physics D, leading LED researchers from Sandia National Laboratories argue for a shift in that view.

“Presented with the availability of cheaper light, humans may use more of it, as has happened over recent centuries with remarkable consistency following other lighting innovations,” said Sandia lead researcher Jeff Tsao. “That is, rather than functioning as an instrument of decreased energy use, LEDs may be instead the next step in increasing human productivity and quality of life.”

As for problems that could occur with too much light — from so-called ‘light pollution’ that bedevils astronomers to biological enzymes that operate better in darkness — Tsao has this to say: “This new generation of solid-state lighting, with our ability to digitally control it much more precisely in time and space, should enable us to preserve dark when we need it.” There is no reason to fear, Tsao says, that advancing capabilities “will keep us perpetually bathed in light.””

As population increases, certainly, lighting solutions will also increase. From this corollary, energy demands will also increase. LEDs increase the efficiency of light’s lumen output, by illuminating the same amount of light from a traditional incandescent bulb, at a fraction of the wattage. Though LEDs may carry a heftier price tag, their long term applicability, long life and future proof features will help reduce the strain of an otherwise more heavily populated and lighted future. So why haven’t towns, cities and metropolises from around the globe made the [logical] switch? Well, it could be because lighting infrastructure isn’t a priority or a number of different reasons. Perhaps the adage, ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ comes to mind. But therein lies the problem. What if the lighting solutions themselves are inherently broken and governments from around the world continue to fix an otherwise broken system? I think the crux of this broken system stems from poorly designed light fixtures. In days of yore, people used torches to illuminate walkways. Eventually, torches became gas lamps and those gas lamps turned into high-pressure sodium lamps. While the design has gone through several technological breakthroughs, one principle has been omitted: shielded. Shielded lighting directs the light downward where it is needed the most. When one shields a light or streetlamp, the light emitted from the bulb can not escape upwards, but rather concentrates the light downward. Translation: a properly shielded, low wattage light bulb can effectively illuminate (if not more) the same area as an unshielded, high wattage light bulb. The choice is simple. Shielded lighting eliminates light pollution, reduces electrical consumption and effectively saves you money. By choosing to shield your lights, you are part of the solution. I’m proud to say, that all of our lights from Starry Night Lights are 100% shielded and we will always fight the good fight against light pollution.

Let there be night!

Places to visit in Western Canada

Posted on August 7, 2010 by Noel

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Western Canada
Credit & Copyright: Mark Zou from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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British Columbia

“British Columbia is the most western Canadian province. This remarkable province is blessed with thousands of miles of Pacific coastline and well over half the land area is mountainous. Off the mainland, B.C. has thousands of islands that host remarkable untouched ecosystems. This is a must-visit province of Canada and is well known for its natural beauty. Canada’s only desert is located in Osoyoos, B.C. which is located at the most southern tip of the Okanagan Valley. The valley is well known for its wine production and lakes. This area is a common tourist area of B.C. because of the sandy beaches and warm weather. With mountain ranges surrounding the Okanagan Valley, and extending to Northern British Columbia, there are plenty of outdoor activities around every corner. British Columbia offers a lot to see and do, and is one of Canada’s most beautiful provinces.


“Alberta borders British Columbia at the Rocky Mountains and is the most populous of the western provinces. Alberta is a very scenic province of Canada; from the mountains range to the foot hills leveling to the prairies, Alberta’s land is dynamic. With the rolling hills and open land, this is a rancher’s paradise. Alberta has two major cities, Edmonton and Calgary. They are both conveniently connected by the Queen Elizabeth Highway which is a vital north-south corridor in Alberta. This is the province where city meets the country and everyone wants to have a good time.”


“This is one of the most surprisingly unique provinces in Canada. The southern part of the province consists of endless farmland. The land seems to continue on forever, flat, open, and breathtaking. When visiting the south, one would never guess that a large percentage of Saskatchewan is forested land, almost half to be exact. In order to discover the potential and hidden gems of this amazing province, traveling further north or east of Saskatoon is necessary. There are several communities along the forestry line, and several that sprawl deep into the forestry. This area is well known for the snowmobile trails, fishing lakes, hunting and camping. This is a must-see place because the Northern lights (Auroras) dance in the skies and the air is clean and crisp; it’s a feeling that is beyond words. This is the type of place where noise and light pollution is almost non-existent and wildlife roam at their convenience. It truly is a place to experience not only for the amazing land, but for the welcoming people and endless opportunities.”

I first beheld the Northern Lights driving through Manitoba. After many hours in the car and the day winding down, I began to fall asleep. As I was drifting off to sleep, I heard my parents in an excited voice exclaim ‘wow – how beautiful!’ Needless to say, my inquisitive nature beckoned me to view out the window and needless to say, I was quite impressed. What I saw was a monochromatic, ethereal green bed sheet in the sky. I was in awe. I’ve only seen one instance of the Northern Lights, but hope in the future to see many more. I imagine, they’re quite beautiful to view with a hot beverage in hand on a cold, clear winter night.

Most importantly, this moment in my life left an indelible mark upon me. Similar to viewing the Milky Way Galaxy on a pristine, clear night. I will and will always yearn to see both of these natural phenomenons again. Humans have created light pollution, yet we possess the technology to 100% eradicate it today.

Let there be night!

In search of dark nights

Posted on July 14, 2010 by Noel

Nights dark enough for star-gazing are important not just for astronomy, but for the health of many species. (CORBIS)


“Researchers presenting their work at Edmonton added further examples of species affected by brightness in various ways. Some, like the turtles and migrating birds, become visually bewildered, whereas others, such as voles, can have their circadian or seasonal rhythms disrupted by artificially lengthened days, leading to rising levels of stress hormones.

Speakers also showed evidence that frogs and snail larvae grow at different rates under natural and artificial light. Beach mice on bright shorelines may have to restrict the areas in which they forage, to avoid predators. Salamanders, too, are reluctant to leave their hideaways at night under the glare of artificial light, and certain bats won’t fly in bright areas, which limits and lengthens their commutes to food.

Not all lights have the same effects. Astronomers and conservationists are looking closely at the increasing popularity of LED lights, for instance. LEDs are more energy efficient than many alternatives, which carries environmental benefits. But LEDs that include light from all wavelengths are also closer to sunlight than traditional bulbs and are therefore more disruptive to many species.”

Not every lighting fixture is created equal. Today, the majority of lighting fixtures spanning across the globe are based on archaic lighting principles, such as unshielded lighting designs, high wattage/inefficient light bulbs usage and the ‘more light, the better’ mentality. Though a superior option exists, many still adhere to these dated principles. The superior option, is this: fewer, motion-detector-shielded-lighting-fixtures utilizing energy efficient light bulbs. This setup is optimal because the light shines where/when it is needed most (downward), costs substantially less to maintain/operate and protects living creatures, humans included, from the effects of light pollution. All our lighting fixtures at Starry Night Lights are 100% shielded and come in all shapes and sizes.

Let there be night!

Light Pollution: A Growing Problem for Wildlife

Posted on July 10, 2010 by Noel


“The most well known light pollution effects are on migratory birds. Bright lights distract and often disorient the birds, drawing them off course and sometimes leading them to fly into the sides of buildings.But migratory animals are not the only victims. Night-foraging creatures, such as bats and mice, rely on the darkness to either hunt or provide protection from predators.The “permanent full moon” effect makes these animals more vulnerable to being eaten, and the sometimes adapt by spending less time foraging away from their dens.The more researchers uncover about the startling effects of light pollution, the more obvious it is that something needs to change in the way humans use and direct light.”

“We’ve turned major swathes of the globe into permanent full moon, or more.” – Travis Longcore, organizer of the conference and director of the California-based Urban Wildlands Group

I find it rather curious how little we as a species know regarding the implications of our actions. Often, an immediate solution may become a maturing problem or an immediate problem may become a maturing solution. Weighing the importance of our options can often leave one ambivalent, confounded with unending, limitless possibilities. How can we foresee or know for sure that our actions are balanced in accordance to Nature? Is it even possible for us to achieve this balance?

Forgive the brief musing above, but consider this fact: creatures possessing a circadian rhythm are negatively affected by light pollution. The day-night cycle governs over most life on Earth, humans included. Think about that for a moment. Everyday, light pollution continues to blanket more of the night sky around the globe, dwindling the viewable stars above and depriving billions of a distinctly human activity. Compounding environmental problems have been changing Earth for centuries. The compounding evidence speaks for itself, but it’s up to us if we wish to actively change these problems. Granted, some may argue that there are some indelible problems. If that is the case, let us focus on revitalizing our planet by solving solvable problems and heed our mistakes. For starters, light pollution is 100% reversible. Shielded lighting prevents light from escaping into the sky above. This is an easy fix to an otherwise large scale problem. Starry Night Lights is and will always be proud to be a part of the solution.

Let there be night!

Gulf Crisis: Sea Turtles and Other Marine Organisms at Risk

Posted on June 7, 2010 by Noel

On April 20th, the drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and sank while working on an 18,000-foot well for BP Plc in the Gulf of Mexico. At this time, in June, the amount of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico is estimated at 22 million gallons and counting. This is an absolute environmental catastrophe. Yet most, if all, news sites tip-toe around a consequence of the spill: the biodiversity. Rather than link to several photos in this blog, a quick search on the internet, particularly the blogosphere, should show you just how horrible the biodiversity situation is (flora and fauna included) and how pathetic most news agencies are.

Starry Night Lights has posted about the plight of tea turtles in the past, but now more than ever, these organisms need our help. Prior to the BP spill, turtles faced dwindling population sizes due to light pollution. When sea turtles hatch in the sandy beaches, they naturally follow the brightest object towards the ocean. The moon, at one point, navigated the turtles toward the sea. Presently, light pollution from poorly principled light has led many turtles astray inland. Compounding light pollution with the recent oil spill, spells doom for these aquatic creatures.

Starry Night Lights has been providing knowledge and products for our seafaring friends of the deep. The BP spill is an environmental wake-up call. It’s time to take action!

Let there be night!

Robins are singing nocturnes

Posted on June 4, 2010 by Noel



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In music, nocturnes are pieces appropriate to the night or evening in the form of an instrumental composition of a pensive, dreamy mood, especially one for the piano. Chopin’s Nocturnes and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata both exemplify the nocturne style exceptionally well and are certainly worth a listen if you haven’t. Enter robins. Known for their beautiful (or annoying, depending on your prerogative) bird songs heard only in the early morning, recent evidence suggests otherwise. Within urban areas, songs from robins can now be heard at night. In fact, other diurnal birds, such as mockingbirds and ovenbirds can be heard throughout the night as well. Given that diurnal creatures function during the daytime and this relatively new phenomenon is occurring in urban areas, one can deduce that human involvement is the culprit. Many ornithologists, or bird researchers, established the sole catalyst to be light pollution. Evidence has shown Light pollution to disrupt circadian rhythms found within organisms. Think 24 hour biological clock. Yet recent evidence reveals another disruptive pollution contributing to this new phenomenon: noise pollution. Urban environments can be quite noisy and ornithologists found diurnal birds simply do not compete with the noise found within urban environments. When one synthesizes both light and noise pollution as components to this new phenomenon, the consequence or diurnal birds singing at night seems logical. As to whether this consequence is a welcoming change, it becomes complicated. For one, it’s unnatural for robins to sing at night – they’ve never sung at night. Ever. On the other hand, it’s natural for species to adapt to changing environments. If one doesn’t adapt, then survival becomes increasingly challenging. It’s remarkable to observe species adapt to dominating human environments, yet it’s also disconcerting to know how little we, as humans, understand our own impact on the environment.

As an advocate for darker night skies, I find this evidence compelling. Without a doubt, we as humans have difficulty assessing our very own impact within the environment. All too often, one encounters rhetoric where one would find ‘within our environment’ in most usage. Whilst correct in one sense, that yes, our means possession of the immediate environment, I’m hesitant to use it because is it really ‘ours and ours alone’? Our environment seems rather selfish to me. No doubt, humans are the most dominate species on the planet but what about the biodiversity that makes Earth home? Not to mention, how do we know or separate Earth from other planets without the heavens above? These are among many questions we all face today and will experience in the foreseeable future.

Let there be light!


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