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.

Sark’s skies could gain international recognition

Posted on April 30, 2010 by Noel


Image found here.

Article source

“I’ve found as you would expect that the skies here are very dark, there’s very little light pollution comes from Sark itself. The only real problem you have is from other islands like Guernsey, Jersey and in fact the east coast of France that a tiny little glow on your horizon from those places. But to all intents and purposes you’ve got skies darker than ninety nine percent of people in the UK will ever see.” – Steve Owens from the International Dark Skies Association

“From a tourism point of view it would be lovely for us to be the sort of place that you don’t have to be an astronomer or a star head you just have to enjoy the night sky, that’s one of them. There is really the sort of let’s do our bit for the environment because if you have effective lighting you probably use less of it and then you have to generate less electricity so that’s always a good thing. I think it just raises the profile of this nice place, let’s conserve it and I would say those three together really, that’s what it’s all about.” – Jo Birch from La Societe Sercquaise

Sark island lies in the southwestern portion of the English Channel. As a roughly 2 sq mile island with 600 inhabitants, much of Sark’s revenue relies on tourism. If the International Dark Skies association approves Sark as a Dark Sky island, big things could happen for this small island. Retrofitting new lighting fixtures, if they are even needed, would be absolutely simple and painless. What’s more, automobiles have and will always be prohibited island wide. Whether Sark island is approved or not, Sark is a wonderful little jaunt especially for ecotourists.

Best of luck to Sark island on obtaining island wide Dark Sky approval and remember:

Let there be night!

Bright lights bother some in Santa Venetia

Posted on April 28, 2010 by Noel

Bright lights bother some in Santa Venetia

“LIghts[sic] illuminate the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District wastewater treatment plant near Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael at twilight on Thursday. Residents in nearby Santa Venetia are urging the district to scale back light pollution.” (IJ photo/Jeff Vendsel)

Article source

“The Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District is set to call in a light expert to conduct a study and help dim the district’s luminous wastewater treatment plant northeast of San Rafael.

Bright lights from the plant and an adjacent parking lot have bothered some neighbors in nearby Santa Venetia, in some cases for many years. The parking lot serves both employees and visitors to popular hiking trails along the shores of district storage ponds and marshes.”

“We used to use the plant to guide us in here more than we used the light at the airport (San Francisco International), because we could see the plant a lot more than we could see the airport. I have great admiration of the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District board for dealing so aggressively with this problem, which they have done. That’s why it seems like we’re on a road to taking to the light pollution (issue) in a very positive way” – Michael McCrea, a resident of Vendola Drive since 1978 and retired commercial pilot.

Enough is enough for Santa Venetian residents. As you can see from the picture above, the lighting principles are deeply flawed. It’s unshielded, emits significant glare and electrically inefficient. Good on the concerned Santa Venetian residents for expressing their concern as a community and good on Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District listening to local residents by hiring a lighting expert. In fact, according to Mark Williams, district manager of Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District,

“We are concerned about light pollution and we are in the process of installing some new lighting at the plant; We also want to provide security for the treatment plant and protect our staff so they can see.”

The light inspection and retrofitting is expected to cost the district around $13,000. Needless to say, Santa Venetian residents are overjoyed. Congratulations on your victory!

Let there be night!

Chile to get world’s largest telescope

Posted on April 26, 2010 by Noel

Source

“A location in Chile has been chosen as the site for what Europe’s leading science and technology organization calls the world’s biggest telescope – an optical/infrared telescope (E-ELT) that when built will have a monster primary mirror almost 138 ft (42 meters) in diameter.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO), an organization of 14 European countries that builds and operates a suite of astronomical telescopes hopes the E-ELT will get a great look at planets around other stars, exoplanets, super-massive black holes, and the nature and distribution of the dark matter and dark energy. The groups says the E-ELT could revolutionize science’s perception of the Universe, much as Galileo’s telescope did 400 years ago.”

The runners up for the bid were locations in Spain, Argentina and Chile but ultimately, Cerro Armazones, Chile proved the victor. Cerro Armazones was picked because of its ‘balanced atmospheric conditions’ and its sky quality – 320 clear nights a year! As an ESO project, participating Eurozone members will have full access to the telescope in person or remotely.

Light pollution is a scourge around the world. For those that can view a clear sky 365 days a year, what a real treat. I find it rather unfortunate that astronomical study these days seems to happen remotely from their original point of origin. What I mean by that is say a University wishes to build a telescope on or relatively close to campus. Such an ideal is often crushed by one culprit: light pollution. Ergo, one must ‘run away’ from light pollution to see clearer skies. Sure, there may be incentives to build a telescope internationally, e.g. financial reasons, lack of clear skies, less human interference, weather conditions etc., but what about the virtue of watching the night sky at home? There’s something to be said about enjoying an evening at home, amongst friends, family or by yourself. Perhaps if astronomy had more of a foothold in everyday life, then light pollution would be a long forgotten myth told to youngsters? Perhaps.

Let there be night!

Guangzhou studying light pollution fees

Posted on April 23, 2010 by Noel


Image credit found here.

Source

“GUANGZHOU – The provincial capital of South China’s Guangdong province is expected to take the lead in collecting light pollution fees in the country.”

“Medical research has proven that excessive light surrounding the human body causes a variety of adverse health effects, including increased headaches, stress, and anxiety, as well as a decrease in sexual function. The incidence of eye disease is also higher in urban residents than in country residents due to light pollution.”

“The normal light intensity of illumination is about 15 lumens. The light illuminance in the city’s busy Beijing Road, however, reaches more than 1,000 lumens, 60 times more than the standard level.” – Li Mingguang, a doctor from Guangzhou Scientific Research Institute of Environmental Protection.

Although legislation has not received approval from the Guangzhou bureau of environmental protection, many expect the proposal to pass with flying colours. Light pollution has become a major issue within the south province, as it is known as the “a city without night”. The only real problem delaying such a proposal lies in facilitating an objective, consistent standard on what constitutes and how to regulate ‘light pollution‘. Once the proper lighting principles are shown to the proper departments in the area, Guangzhou could punch light pollution’s lights out.

Let there be night!

Group hopes to improve light pollution policy

Posted on April 21, 2010 by Noel


Image credit: Nightwise.org

Source

“That’s one of the concerns. The bad guys can see what they’re doing. If you keep it dark, there’s less incentive for them to be there to do things. The other side of the coin is that you want some illumination so that law enforcement can see what’s going on. But that doesn’t mean that you have to light it all the time.” – Dave Robinson, with the Light Efficient Communities Coalition and who’s been an engineer for forty years.

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Myth: Increased lighting reduces crime.

Recent studies have found no strong correlation between overabundant lighting and crime. Sure, light can make buildings, places or things more recognizable, but excessive lighting may actually prove to be favourable to potential criminals. Glare, an unfortunate consequence of poor lighting solutions, hinders one’s ability to perceive contrast amongst their field of view. Here are two examples: having someone’s automobile high beam lights ‘blind’ you at night whilst driving and the feeling of nausea when shopping in a large department store with an overabundant amount of artificial light. As such, the inability to distinctly perceive contrast in one’s field of view, would make identifying and apprehending potential criminals rather difficult, no?

The solution?

Shielded motion sensing lights in conjunction with high efficiency light bulbs: the shielding directs the light where it is needed: downward, the motion sensing illuminates when it’s needed: when the sensor detects movement, and the high efficiency light bulbs utilize less energy yet output the same amount of lumens found on older, inefficient bulbs.

Let there be night!

More night: Fighting light pollution

Posted on April 19, 2010 by Noel


Newburyport at night from above.
Wicked Local Photo by Nicole Goodhue
Article source

“Astronomers were among the first to record the negative impacts of wasted lighting on scientific research, but for society as a whole, the adverse economic and environmental impacts of wasted energy are apparent in everything from the electric bill to the dwindling natural environment.”


Light pollution hasn’t just made the night’s sky a little brighter; for most of us, it’s dramatically brighter,”
said Kelly Beatty, a senior contributing editor for Sky & Telescope magazine and board of directors member for the International Dark-Sky Association.

Dr. Mario Motta, long time Newburyport, Massachusetts resident, is concerned about his community. Whilst he dreamed of becoming an astrophysicist in University, Dr. Mario Motta is now a renowned cardiologist and president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Even though Astronomy wasn’t his major field of study, Dr. Motta still finds time to pursue it as a hobby. Yet Dr. Motta’s hobby has now turned into a passion. Presently, he gives lectures on how to curb light pollution and why Newburyport should. Here are some of the points Dr. Motta introduces in his lectures:

Public Safety

“Our pupils aren’t designed to accommodate direct bright light at night. [Without shielded lights] we’re blinding everyone.”

“If your neighbor’s spotlight is shining in your bedroom, it’s going to be a lot harder to sleep; lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, stress, depression and onset of diabetes.” – Dr. Motta

Shielded lighting is absolutely essential to proper lighting principles. It directs the light where it’s needed most: downward. A negative consequence of unshielded lighting is what Dr. Motta calls ‘disability glare.’ This ‘disability glare’ can temporarily “cast everything except the light source into virtual invisibility, causing drivers to see only white, basically blinding them.” Drivers over the age of 50 are at most risk.

Sleep disorders, another negative consequence of light pollution, can also lead to other serious illnesses such as depression, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Environmental concerns

“Artificial lighting has a huge detrimental impact on the natural rhythms of wildlife as well. Insects are lured to their deaths when artificial lights make them more visible to predators and easier to hunt. Owls and songbirds that migrate in the night collide with buildings, attracted to the man-made glare, and cannot follow the stars and moon the way they are internally programmed to do. Reptiles shy away from artificial lighting, which limits where they can look for food. Sea turtle mothers and their hatchlings become disoriented by the glow of lights from beach communities, setting off toward the lights of the houses rather than toward the moon over the ocean. Other animals including bats, raccoons, coyotes, deer and moose need the dark for mating and simply to sleep.

Plants, including many of the deciduous trees found in the Newburyport area, also need periods of dark for proper hormonal structures. In some cases, the streetlights confuse the trees enough to keep their leaves in the winter, which though it may look pretty, is actually very unhealthy for the plants themselves.”

Economic impact

“Billions of dollars are spent on unnecessary lighting each year in the United States. Approximately $2.2 billion is spent on lighting the night sky via unshielded outdoor lights. The lights also have a huge impact on carbon dioxide waste, as well, producing more than 14.7 million tons in the U.S. each year.”

In Dr. Motta’s community, unshielded streetlamps utilize 100-watt light bulbs. Shielded streetlamps paired with 60-watt light bulbs would actually light a larger portion of the road, due to the concentration of the light directed downward.

An easy fix

“Street lights are the biggest single source of light pollution, but anyone can reduce light pollution by keeping lights on his/her own property [dark-sky friendly].

“Light only when you need it, only where you need it, and only with the amount necessary.” – Kelly Beatty, a senior contributing editor for Sky & Telescope magazine and board of directors member for the International Dark-Sky Association.

“Unlike many of today’s lingering environmental concerns, the solutions to light pollution are simple, cost-effective and instant.”

Kelly Beatty really hit the nail with the hammer. Keep it simple. If security concerns your household, install shielded motion sensing lights utilizing energy efficient lamps. Light pollution is 100% irreversible and the effects are instantly noticeable.

Let there be night!

Calls to reduce light pollution ‘backed by CPRE survey’

Posted on April 16, 2010 by Noel

“Most people feel their view of the night sky is spoiled by artificial light, a survey suggests.”

Source

Light pollution is an unnecessary waste and detracts from the natural beauty of the night sky, it’s understandable that it makes people angry… The costs of not acting are clear: Unnecessarily high energy bills for councils, and therefore for local taxpayers, more carbon emissions, disrupted sleeping patterns for people, disturbance to wildlife, and a night sky bereft of the majesty of the Milky Way.” – Emma Marrington, rural policy campaigner at CPRE

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has had enough of light pollution. Street lights, neon signs, home and business lights – beware. The CPRE wishes to substantially curb light pollution across the UK. Why? Light pollution “wastes money, is damaging to the environment and seriously detracts from the beauty of the sky at night.” Whilst there have been efforts in the UK, the CPRE is calling on councils, businesses and householders to create better communities that will ensure less intrusive and night sky friendly lighting. Unfortunately, according to the CPRE, “light pollution in England increased by a quarter and the amount of light-saturated night sky rose to 7%. from 1993 to 2000.” Do not dismay, for better lighting starts with shielded lighting fixtures. Utilizing shielding lights in conjunction with low wattage energy efficient bulbs and motion sensors creates concentrated light where you need it most: downward.

Starry Night Lights will always continue to fight the good fight against light pollution.

Let there be night!

Earth Day – April 22nd

Posted on April 14, 2010 by Noel


Image source found here.

Forty years ago, Wisconsin State Senator Gaylord Nelson created a grassroots teach-in environmental campaign across the United States. Today, Earth Day has a global reach of over 22,000 partners and organizations in 190 countries; more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities around the globe. Much has changed since Earth Day’s inception. The demand for energy consumption, population, agriculture, clean water around the globe has increased substantially. Environmental concerns have also increased: pollution in all its forms, glaciers melting, water levels rising, et al. These are equally the most exciting and distressing times we all live right now. As the fortieth anniversary for Earth Day, expect great things.

Here are the core issues Earth Day explores:

Advocacy
Climate Change
Conservation & Biodiversity
Education
Energy
Food & Agriculture
Green Economy
Green Schools
Recycling & Waste Reduction
Sustainable Development
Water

You’d be surprised how much of an impact you would cause if you advocated darker night time skies. Turtles could find their way to the sea. Bats could choose safer routes rather than perilous ones. Humans could achieve a more balanced circadian rhythm, equating to more rest at night and perhaps reduce the chance of receiving breast cancer for starters. Unlike most environmental concerns, light pollution is 100% reversible. That’s right. Zip, nil, nada. How? Shielded lighting fixtures with low wattage energy efficient light lamps; save even more electricity by adding motion sensors – light when its needed most. Starry Night Lights offers a variety of lighting styles, whether indoor or outdoor, to help eliminate light pollution and to make your home gorgeous.

Top 10 places to sky watch

Posted on April 12, 2010 by Noel


Many observatories are open to the public for night viewing of the sky. They are in areas dark enough to actually see the stars, unlike most cities which are plagued by light pollution.
Photograph by: NASA Handout photo, Reuters
Source

By no means a complete list, but here are ten places where one can view spectacular views of the celestial heavens above.

1. McDonald Observatory, United States
2. Stonehenge, Britain
3. Abu Simbel, Egypt
4. Caribbean Islands
5. Pisac, Peru
6. Caldera de Taburiente National Park, Canary Islands
7. Sherbrooke, Canada
8. Slovenia
9. Hawai’i (the Big Island), Hawaii, United States
10. Sark, Britain

Of particular note is Slovenia. As of 2007, the Slovenian government has upheld a law prohibiting light pollution from ravaging the country. The law stipulates that lighting fixtures must possess proper shielding, consideration for additional public lighting fixtures must be deemed absolutely necessary and lighting fixtures must possess energy efficient lamps. According to The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), Slovenians should be saving 10 million euros ($13.5 million) a year.

Let there be night!

Dark Skies campaign aims to get the stars twinkling over UK towns and cities

Posted on April 9, 2010 by Noel


Article source

“Over the centuries, starlit and moonlit skies have inspired thousands of writers, artists, poets, photographers and musicians. Would William Shakespeare have imagined Romeo and Juliet as star-crossed lovers if his skies had been blighted by light pollution?” – Andy Boddington, aspiring writer and creator of Dark Skies 2010 (Pictured above; photograph source found in the article).

Andy Boddington, dissatisfied with the amount of light pollution across England, decided to launch a project. Known as Dark Skies 2010, this project is an “international campaign calling on culture vultures to express their love for the constellations” via the Internet. With Mr. Boddington’s programme, people can “show their backing by simply tweeting about the stars they can see from their back gardens or submitting a story, painting, song or poem to the online gallery.” Dark Skies 2010 was created last month on the spring equinox, March 20th. As a month long initiative, Dark Skies 2010 already has 1,750 people following Mr. Boddington’s website via twitter.

“There are three types of light pollution: sky glow, the orange glow seen over towns caused by upwardly directed or reflected light; light trespass, any light shining where it is not needed; and dazzle, excessively bright and misdirected light. It is Mr Boddington’s belief that all three can be eradicated using capped lights that do not shine upwards into the sky. “We do need lighting to guide us after dark and for safety, but we do not need light that shines upwards into night skies.”

Right you are, Mr. Boddington. Light pollution does exist in three malicious forms. Here at Starry Night Lights, we wish to say ‘Good Show’ for your endeavours and continue to fight the good fight, Mr. Boddington.

Mr. Boddington’s Dark Skies 2010 website may be found here.

Let there be light!

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