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.

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!

BBC show lauds Calgary for cutting light pollution

Posted on August 27, 2010 by Noel

Article source

“Calgary after dark is set to appear on British TV, where it will be held up as a shining example of how reducing light pollution can save taxpayers money and protect the natural environment.

A crew from the BBC spent last weekend in the city filming a report on Calgary’s EnviroSmart street light retrofit program.

Since 2002, 51,493 units have been replaced with more energy-efficient bulbs and flat lenses that better focus the beam downward where it’s needed, meaning less light spills into the night sky.

The city has shelled out $4.7 million on the upgrades, but saved taxpayers $11 million in energy costs, said Troy McLeod, a manager with the road maintenance department.”

Well done Calgary! A major light retrofit can surely eliminate light pollution and reduce light glare. Keep up the spectacular work and continue to be a role model for cities and towns alike!

Let there be night!

Casting light on village concerns

Posted on August 25, 2010 by Noel


Comet McNaught, pictured in 2007 from the Mt John Observatory, above Lake Tekapo, which could become part of the proposed Mackenzie Basin night sky World Heritage reserve. Photo by Fraser Gunn.

Article source

Lake Ohau village residents are to be asked if their town is too bright at night. The association has written to the Waitaki District Council, with the letter referred to the Ahuriri Community Board, offering to gauge residents’ views on street and private lighting in the town. The association said some residents were unhappy that the number and intensity of streets lights resulted in unnecessary light pollution. Other ratepayers believed a reduction in lighting or intensity would cause safety and security issues. The survey will ask residents for their views. If they want less lighting, it asks whether lower wattage bulbs should be trialled, the existing lights replaced with specialised shielded lights to reduce upward light pollution, whether house lights should be shielded or if they have other suggestions. They will also be asked if, as a rural village, Ohau needs any street lights, or whether it needs more. In contrast, the board will also consider whether to finance four extra lights for Kurow after an assessment by the council.

No matter how small or large, communities from around the world are constantly reevaluating measures to save on governmental expenditures. In this case, Lake Ohau is merely the size of a village. The issue at hand is to whether its residents require additional light fixtures or upgrade current existing light fixtures. Regardless of the the decision, the article mentions an important piece of information: “If they want less lighting, it asks whether lower wattage bulbs should be trialled, the existing lights replaced with specialised shielded lights to reduce upward light pollution“. Hopefully, it’s not one or the other, because shielded lighting on existing and/or new light fixtures eliminates light pollution. Folks, it’s all about shielding your lighting fixtures. Without it, light will escape toward the sky, where it is unneeded.

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!

Street light trial complete

Posted on August 20, 2010 by Noel

Article source

“A year-long trial that saw selected street lights turned off late at night has been completed by Wokingham Borough Council.

The council has said it will assess the results before deciding whether to roll the energy-saving initiative out to the borough.

A report is being written assessing the success of the scheme which saw 1,000 street lights switched off from midnight to 5am. The results will be presented to WBC some time in the autumn.

“We will be consulting with police and working out what impact it has had on our carbon footprint and seeing whether the lights going off has made a significant energy saving and improved light pollution,” said Cllr Keith Baker, lead member for highways and transport.

Lights in Greenfinch Drive and Llewellyn Park in Twyford and Autumn Walk in Wargrave were blacked out.”

Around the globe, people continue to fund and pay for unnecessary nighttime lighting. As a consequence of this, the stars above have become washed out with light, creating an absence of absolute night. Why leave on a light when no one around needs it? From this brief article, I’m not sure if these lights from the conducted trail uphold dark sky friendly lighting principles. Specifically, if they are shielded or not. Cities, governments or people alike may claim they have ‘intelligent’ lighting fixtures coupled with the most energy efficient light bulbs but here’s the straight dope: if it’s not shielded, it’s a poor light fixture-period. Without the use of proper shielding to direct the light downward, light would otherwise leak upwards into the night sky. Not only is it wasteful, it’s unhealthy and unsafe. Millions of people from around the globe suffer from sleeping disorders nightly, which has been linked with light pollution. Areas around the globe suffer from hyper-lighting, due to the mindset that more light at night deters criminals. In reality, more light aids criminals rather than deters or hinders them. So it comes to this: Shielded lighting completely eliminates light pollution. Let us reclaim the night!

Let there be night!

Light Pollution Talk Aug. 22

Posted on August 18, 2010 by Noel

“BROOKSVILLE — On Sunday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Brooksville Town House, the Brooksville Historical Society will host a presentation by Peter Lord, executive director of the Island Astronomy Institute.

The program is titled “Starlit Communities: Stewardship for a New Resource.”

Lord will show images of the Earth at night, as seen from satellites, and discuss how to achieve the night lighting we need without destroying the starry sky.

All are welcome to come to the presentation, which will be preceded by a very short annual business meeting of the society.”

Article source

Light pollution is quickly becoming a global, environmental scourge. Relatively speaking, I’d argue that the public’s opinion of light pollution consists of either ignorance, apathy or inconsequentiality. Light pollution affects all creatures on Earth, possessing a circadian rhythm i.e. body clock. If an environment is heavily illuminated at night, a person or creature’s body will not produce melatonin, a chemical produced by the brain at night. Numerous studies have linked sleep disorders, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), breast cancer in women and altered migratory movement or flight patterns in several species with light pollution.

Light pollution is 100% reversible. All it takes is the initiative to change your lights, followed by properly shielding your lights. The key to eradicating light pollution lies in shielded lighting apparatuses. Without shielding, all lights emit unnecessary light upwards into the sky, instead of downward, where it is needed most. By shielding a light, i.e. concentrating the light, one can utilize lower wattage light bulb that would otherwise emit the same, if not greater, amount of light than a traditional light bulb. That means ostensible energy savings for you and your community. Furthermore, if you decide to add timers or motion detectors to your light fixtures, expect to save even more money, as well as save your family or business from burglars. That’s right, the accepted notion of  ‘increased lighting deters criminals’ is a myth. In fact, studies have proven quite the contrary.

If you’re looking for a few bright ideas regarding lighting, give us, Starry Night Lights a gander or call and we’d be more than happy to assist your needs. We have outdoor and indoor lighting products for all your needs and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for all the latest lighting products.

Let there be night!

Instead of charging streelight fee, let’s use them more efficiently

Posted on August 9, 2010 by Noel

Article source

“The Rochester City Council has missed a golden opportunity with the recently defeated streetlight fee. As the Post-Bulletin rightly noted, the bait-and-switch plan was a lemon from the get-go. However, the current streetlight situation in Rochester is antiquated and desperately needs updating. The current streetlight design is a horrible example of light pollution — defined as light that hits somewhere other than the intended area, quite often up into the sky where it serves no one.

A few years ago, RPU instituted a “Clean air rider” on the utility bill to pay for updating the pollution control system on the coal plant. It passed without serious argument. Similarly, a “clean light rider” could be added to the bill to make two significant changes to the city’s street lights.

First, replace all the current fixtures with full cutoff fixtures — ones that use physical barriers to focus the light only on the areas intended, eliminating the light pollution. Second, install timers on all streetlights so that they are not lit from midnight until 5 a.m. on residential streets. In these cost-conscious times, there is no reason to light sidewalks at times no one walks.

The reduced wattage necessary to illuminate the tightly focused target areas, as well as the reduced time the lights remain lit, would drastically reduce energy usage — which would reduce the cost in the city budget, freeing funds for productive uses.

The “clean light rider” would expire when the streetlight replacement costs were met. The savings would continue in perpetuity.” – Scott Regener Rochester

Right you are, Mr. Regener. The Rochester City Council certainly missed a golden opportunity to improve upon their city’s lighting plan. Shielded lighting fixtures paired with energy efficient light bulbs eliminates light pollution. In fact, it also reduces energy consumption as well. To make a shielded light fixture and energy efficient light bulb even more efficient with electricity, the city could have utilized motion sensors. Sure, the lights turn off at night, but the lights will turn on immediately at the slightest hint of motion. To the comments from the article source, increased lighting does not detour criminal activity. In fact, numerous scientific studies have conclusively demonstrated quite the opposite. Anachronistic lighting principles such as ‘high pressure sodium lamps are the most cost efficient lamps’ or the myth of ‘too much light is better than no light’ continue to influence public perception of what constitutes proper lighting practices. Light pollution is 100% reversible.

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

Article source

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

“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.”

Saskatchewan

“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!

Massive Meteor Shower Will be Visible to Region

Posted on August 2, 2010 by Noel


Image source found here.

Article source

“The Perseid Meteor Shower is named after the constellation Perseus, which is located in roughly the same point of the night sky where the Perseid Meteor Shower appears to originate from. Though useful, the name is actually quite a misnomer.

In actuality, the Perseid Meteor Shower is made up of debris from the comet, “Swift-Tuttle.” Every year, the earth passes through the debris cloud left by the comet, and it is at this specific time that the earth’s atmosphere is bombarded by what is popularly known as “falling stars.” Throughout Europe, the US, and the rest of North America, meteor shower activity usually peaks sometime around August 12th, when it is not unusual to see at least 60 meteors per hour streaking across the Northeast sky.

Though each of the meteors we see rocketing across the night sky may seem monumental, most are actually only tiny objects, usually no bigger than a grain of sand. However, these space specs travel at speeds of 71 kilometers per second, which is actually what makes the minute particles put on such a brilliant show year after year.

The best place to observe the Perseid Meteor Shower, which will be occurring after midnight on August 12th and 13th, is somewhere dark, away from light pollution, and with the moon out of the field of vision. The less light visible, the more brilliant the meteor shower will be.”

This is a fantastic opportunity to view a nearly 2,000 year old phenomenon many cultures and generations have observed yearly. To think, people 2,000 years ago could view the night sky without any obfuscation; how humbling and how neat, to be able to experience such a thing. Regrettably, many parts around the globe can not view the Perseid Meteor Shower, in all its glory. This, as it has for the past 2,000 years, should put on a pretty good show for all ages around the globe. Take the family out to a national park or a dark sky preserve, to see it and get some fresh air. Unfortunately, many of today’s youth have never experienced a fully, unobstructed view of the Milky Way Galaxy and they have grown up with light pollution. Think back to a time when you were a kid. How was the night sky then? Was it clearer than it is now? If so, do you miss it? It is up to us, who have seen the Milky Way, to eradicate light pollution. We have the technology to completely eliminate it – for good. Let’s make a difference!

Let there be night!

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