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.

By Jupiter! Comet dust and light from billions of stars and far-flung planets creates magnificent display in the desert night sky

Posted on December 29, 2010 by Noel


The night sky over the Libyan desert. Jupiter is the brightest spot in the sky

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“If you live in a city it is easy to forget there is a stunning star-scape above your head, which is hidden by light pollution.

But out in the Libyan desert, there is little to obscure your view.

Amateur photographer and civil engineer Tunc Tezel captured the glorious night sky above Ras Lanuf camp in Libya.

The 33-year-old from Turkey is overseeing a coastal railway construction between Sirt and Benghazi and was keen to take advantage of his isolated location.

Although a glowing sky is often cloud reflecting sun or moonlight, the flight running diagonally up to the right is created by the combined light from billions of stars that make up our local Milky Way Galaxy.

Mr Tezel took the image on December 7 an hour after sunset and managed to unveil zodiacal light as well. This is the sunlight reflected off tiny dust particles ejected by comets that orbit our Solar System.

He told the Mail Online: ‘I took six pictures as a 3×2 panorama, which I later constructed with image processing software to get the final view.

‘The brightest celestial object below centre is the Moon. Mercury is also visible to the lower left of the Moon and just above the horizon.

‘After the sky got dark enough, the Milky Way became visible, rising to the upper right from the southwest horizon. Thanks to the clear and transparent skies that evening, Zodiacal Light was also easily seen rising from to the upper left from the southwestern horizon.’

Mr Tezel, who has been an amateur astronomer since 1992 said his location on the northern tip of Africa was the ideal spot for capturing the night sky’s beauty.

‘From my southern location of Libya (30 degrees North), the Milky Way and Zodiacal Light stood nicely symmetrical,’ he said.

‘From farther north, Milky way would stand more upright as Zodiacal Light would be nearly invisible as it would make a very shallow angle with the horizon.’

Mr Tezel is part of an organisation called The World At Night or TWAN. The group’s main aim of TWAN is to produce and present a collection of stunning photographs and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against the celestial attractions.”

Another beautiful evening captured on camera. Such a sight is not a dream nor impossible to achieve. In fact, quite the contrary. How? Easy. We must change how we fundamentally approach lighting. We must abandon the notion, ‘more light deters more criminals.’ Simply put, it’s ineffective. Increased lighting actually encourages deviants, miscreants and criminals to commit vandalism, robbery or public disturbances. A solution to such a problem, would be to utilize preexisting motion sensor technology. If darkness surrounds an area and a light immediately turns on, the eye can identify the said area almost instantaneously, rather than being potentially blinded in over illuminated areas. Following the archaic notion of ‘more is better,’ we must utilize and follow proper light fixture shielding to eliminate unnecessary light sources. Properly shielded light fixtures directs the light where it is needed most, downward – effectively eliminating light pollution 100%. By eliminating light pollution, we retroactively improve the health of all creatures possessing circadian rhythms, rest easier and reclaim our night skies.

Let there be night!

The amazing Northern Lights show that never ceases to amaze

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Noel


Lighting up the stars tonight: The Northern lights at Hvalfjorour fjord in Akranes near Reykjavik change the look of the landscape completely

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“Dancing across the clear skies, the amazing Auroa Borealis are truly a sight to behold.

Icelandic photographer Kristjan Unnar Kristjansson – also known as ‘Kiddi’ – has spent the last nine years capturing the kaleidoscopic light show in his native homeland.

‘No words can properly describe the experience.Even though I’ve seen them now and again throughout my life, I’m still awe-inspired and flabbergasted every time they show up.’

Also known as the northern and southern polar lights, the natural light displays are governed by sun storms and are usually observed at night.

In northern latitudes the effect is known as the Aurora Borealis, named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas.

Using highly sensitive cameras – and a lot of patience – Kristjan has gone to extraordinary lengths to capture the images.

‘It is really hard capturing them, as they require bright lenses, highly photosensitive cameras, warm clothes and a whole lot of luck,’ he said.

‘Flashlights are must-haves, especially when there’s no moonlight, as the night can be pitch black.
‘I don’t think anyone has ever captured a good aurora photo in their first try or even their second.

‘I try to have people, structures, landscapes in the picture as it gives the auroras authenticity, scale and value, at least in my opinion.’

Even though Kristjan is lucky enough to sometimes see the auroras from just outside his apartment, he often takes trips out of Reykjavik in order to get the best pictures.

‘Getting good photos of them on the other hand can be tricky,’ he said. ‘So I often take trips outside of Reykjavik with a friend or two, and we take a drive to a remote, light-pollution free location.

‘In total, I would estimate that I’ve driven somewhere around 10, 000-15, 000 kilometres while looking for them.’

For Kristjan the there is no other natural phenomenon as experiencing the Aurora Borealis first hand. ‘I recommend that everybody should try to visit Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Alaska or any other northern-latitude country for this purpose alone. The northern lights are something special,’ he said.

The auroras are with us all year round. In Iceland, the summers never go dark so you wouldn’t be able to see them, even though they are there.

‘The auroras are governed by sun storms, which have been few and small in recent years. The last peak was in 2001, and the next peak is expected between 2013 – 2015.

‘I can tell they’re getting stronger by looking at their colour,’ says Kristjan. ‘Usually they’re just green/pinkish, but now we’re seeing clear tones of red. I can’t wait until my next aurora trip.’ “

Oh my. What a remarkable sight! To think, one could witness such a natural, wonderful phenomenon right outside your doorstep. In addition, notice the clear, dark skies in the background. How prodigious. Although the aurora borealis is geographically limited, the benefits of properly shielded lighting are unlimited. Imagine dark, changing skies every night free of light pollution. Dark skies are within our grasp, yet we continue to manufacture and propagate poorly designed light fixtures without proper shielding. We can do it!

Let there be night!

Look for the hunter

Posted on December 26, 2010 by Noel

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“PEAK District stargazers are being urged to look up into the sky this new year and scour the heavens for a well-known constellation as part of a fact-finding project.

The Peak District National Park Authority is seeking the help of residents and visitors to look out for Orion in a bid to find out how much light pollution obscures our view of the night sky.

The authority wants people to go outside on a clear night, any time from December 31 to January 5 or January 28 to February 2, to spot the constellation, often referred to as The Hunter, with its distinctive “belt” of three bright stars in a line.

Then, starspotters are asked to make a note of the location, time and date before comparing a series of online images with what they see. The images show different views of Orion, some in a dark sky, where many stars are visible, and some with light-pollution and fewer stars.

People need to identify the image best resembling what they see.

Once they have done that, they are asked to send their information back to the authority.

Jane Chapman, head of environment, heritage and recreation strategy, said: “Light pollution affects our enjoyment of the night sky, it wastes energy and has an impact on the well-being of people and wildlife.

“Unfortunately light pollution is increasing each year, so unless we act now, future generations may grow up never experiencing a truly dark night sky.”

She added: “We’d be grateful for people’s help. This information will provide valuable evidence about the quality of our night sky, allowing us to develop policies to protect it.”

To find out all the information needed to take part, log on to www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/darkskies”

Happy Holidays and Skygazing!

Let there be night!

Call to study Peak Park sky at night

Posted on December 22, 2010 by Noel

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“STAR-spotters are being asked to take part in a new project to chart views of Orion’s Belt, which is being organised by the Peak District National Park Authority.

The authority is trying to find out how much light pollution obscures our view of the night sky and is asking people to go outside in the Peak District on a clear night to spot the constellation of Orion, with its distinctive “belt” of three bright stars in a line.

People are then asked to log their location, time and date and compare what they see with a series of images available online, showing different views of Orion. Some images show a dark sky, with lots of stars, and others show a lighter sky in which few stars are visible.

Jane Chapman, the Peak District National Park Authority’s head of environment, heritage and recreation strategy, said: “Light pollution not only affects our enjoyment of the night sky, it wastes energy and has an impact on the wellbeing of people and wildlife.

“Unfortunately light pollution is increasing each year, so unless we act now, future generations may grow up never experiencing a truly dark night sky.”"

It’s true. Light pollution is a 100% reversible problem. Though we posses the technology and the materials needed to do so, we sit idly as our dark-skies continue to glow more and more every year. A new year dawns upon us soon, so perhaps communities across the globe will choose to reduce the amount of light pollution they produce from unshielded light fixtures.

Let there be night!

Fountain Hills council adopts goals for year

Posted on December 20, 2010 by Noel

“The Fountain Hills Town Council on Thursday adopted its goals for fiscal year 2011-12 based on the town’s 2010 strategic plan.

The goals address civility, environmental stewardship, civic responsibility, education, learning and culture, economic vitality, and recreational opportunities and amenities. They will provide the framework for the council’s decisions in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

“We are planning way ahead so we give staff plenty of time to be prepared to get things in order,” Mayor Jay Schlum said.

The goals “are fostered from our strategic plan, which is the direct feedback from many, many folks in our community as to where they wish the community to focus on,” he said.

Under civility, one of the goals is to “genuinely” solicit and consider public and stakeholder feedback as part of the decision-making process. Environmental stewardship involves exploring and implementing new technologies and opportunities that will minimize noise, air and light pollution, and reduce energy consumption.

Under economic vitality, one goal is to develop and maintain a balanced, equitable, sustainable and local financing structure to support the town’s core government services at desired service levels, as well as promote retention, expansion and relocation of quality businesses.

Also under economic vitality, the council is instructing town staff to develop a marketing plan and campaign, and to work with stakeholders, such as the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce, to ensure their marketing efforts complement each other and don’t overlap.

In other business, the council voted to extend until Dec. 31, 2011, the expiration date for businesses to display A-frame signs and banners for special sales events. Council members also asked town staff to step up enforcement of existing sign regulations during this extended period.”

As the end of the year is nearing, communities across the globe are reevaluating their various budgets. More and more communities are beginning to reduce the number of street lights in their communities to cut down on electrical costs. The problem isn’t with quantity, but rather, quality. Shielded lighting makes a light fixture effective. Period. It directs the light downward, requires a lower wattage light bulb and reduces energy consumption. Without proper shielding, light escapes into the sky and pollutes it. Though the initial cost to retrofit and/or replace current unshielded lights with proper shielding, the cost savings would be absolutely tremendous for years to come.

Let there be night!

CITY LIGHT POLLUTION AFFECTS AIR POLLUTION (CONT.)

Posted on December 19, 2010 by Noel

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Excess light at night can contribute to air pollution, according to a study by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado. Findings presented at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco on Monday indicate that uplight from outdoor lighting that contributes to sky glow over cities also interferes with chemical reactions that naturally clean the air during nighttime hours.

Every night, chemicals from vehicle exhaust and other human created sources are broken down and prevented from becoming smog, ozone, or other irritants by a form of nitrogen oxide called the nitrate radical. Sunlight destroys the naturally occurring nitrate radical, so this process occurs only in hours of darkness.

Measurements taken over Los Angeles by aircraft show that light pollution from cities is suppressing the radical. Though the lights are 10,000 dimmer than the Sun, the study’s first results indicate that city lights can slow down the nighttime cleansing by up to 7% and they can increase the starting chemicals for ozone pollution the next day by up to 5%.

As many cities are close to their limits of allowable ozone levels, this news is expected to generate immediate interest in light pollution reduction as a way to improve air quality among city, state, and federal bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

“[This effect] is more important up in the air than it is directly on the ground so if you manage to keep the light pointing downward and not reflected back up into sky, into the higher parts of the air, then you would certainly have a much smaller effect of this,” NOAA investigator Harald Stark told BBC News.

International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Executive Director Bob Parks is hopeful that results of this study will encourage cities to adopt environmentally responsible dark sky lighting practices that include using fully shielded fixtures, minimum lighting levels, and lighting only when necessary. “The impending transition to LED outdoor lighting will also allow cities to utilize adaptive lighting controls to dim or turn off lights when not needed. Not only will this vastly reduce energy consumption, based on this new research, it could also improve air quality. This reinforces IDA’s long term goal to reduce total lumens in the environment,” says Parks.

Starting in 2008, IDA has held yearly educational briefings for both houses of U.S. Congress to raise federal awareness of light pollution. After the 2008 event, eleven members of Congress signed a letter to EPA Administrator Johnson requesting support for research and education on the environmental, health, and safety effects artificial light at night. On 9 October 2008 EPA was petitioned to review light pollution to monitor and reduce atmospheric discoloration of the night sky under the Clean Air Act. The EPA has made no formal response to the petition.

So there you have it. Albeit a more detailed article, the message is the same: light pollution increases air pollution. Installing proper shielding on light fixtures is a cost effective way to eliminate air pollution, as well as reduce our energy consumption. Perhaps, this breakthrough will help garner more public attention towards more intelligent lighting designs and the importance of shielded lights. Dark-sky advocates, chalk this up as a win.

Let there be night!

Light Pollution Worsens Air Pollution

Posted on December 15, 2010 by Noel

Light pollution is the term used to describe the overabundance of light in urban areas. From cars, buildings, and street lights, it’s almost like it never gets dark in the city. And it turns out that this affects air pollution, as well.

After measuring the air around the infamously polluted city of Los Angeles, scientists discovered that the extra light during the evening was actually worsening the air pollution. This is because a certain chemical–known as a nitrate radical–that breaks down air pollution, is only active at night, because it’s destroyed by light. But when it never really gets dark, the nitrate radical doesn’t have an opportunity to do its job.

“Our first results indicate that city lights can slow down the night-time cleansing by up to 7% and they can also increase the starting chemicals for ozone pollution the next day by up to 5%,” Harald Stark, from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the BBC.

One proposed solution wouldn’t see the removal of lights all together, but instead have them pointed away from the sky so as to not affect the nitrate radical.”

Ah. So there is a connection between light and air pollution after all. Oftentimes, light pollution is overlooked by other, more pressing environmental concerns. Though, in light of this evidence, perhaps we will reevaluate and take its environmental impact more seriously. As the article suggests, it’s really easy: we need to shield our light fixtures. Without proper shielding, all efforts to curb light pollution would be in vain. We have the research, we have the technology, so let’s make a difference now and have more darker, healthier skies!

Let there be night!

Mexico Takes Lead in Latin America with Announcement of Region’s Largest GE LED Street Lighting Project

Posted on December 13, 2010 by Noel

” * Quintana Roo Governor Félix González Canto has announced plans to install 25,507 high-efficiency GE LED street lights in the town of Othón P. Blanco
* The pioneering initiative represents the largest LED street lighting installation in Latin America, saving the town 51% on energy

In the context of the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Quintana Roo’s Estate Governor Félix González Canto reiterated his country’s commitment to the environment by presenting a project to replace 25,507 streetlights in the municipality of Othón P. Blanco with GE Evolve™ light-emitting diode (LED) cobrahead street lights.

“It is our job at all levels of government to support the country’s growth and the well-being of our citizens. LEDs are the future of lighting solutions and Chetumal and its municipality are setting the standards for other cities in Latin America and the world to follow”

The project supports the Mexican government’s Special 2010-2012 Climate Change Program to mitigate environmental impacts by reducing the municipality’s energy usage by 29,218,980 million watts per year. The resulting greenhouse gas emission reduction would be the equivalent of taking the approximately 40,000 cars that operate throughout Othón Blanco off the roads in a 10-year period.

Once completed, the project will be the largest installation of LED streetlights in Latin America.

“All eyes are on Mexico as we host this important meeting on climate change, and we are pleased to support our country’s commitment to the world with actions that will have a long-term impact on the environment,” Governor González Canto remarked. “As many countries begin to move toward achieving their environmental goals, Mexico is establishing its leadership with concrete examples, such as transitioning to LED lighting in our cities.”

According to the 2009 annual report of the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), Mexico is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, with 71% of its GDP at risk of suffering the adverse consequences of this environmental phenomenon. “Governments have a responsibility to seek efficient solutions to meet our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals,” said Municipal President of Othón P. Blanco, Andrés F. Ruiz Morcillo. “It is our job at all levels of government to support the country’s growth and the well-being of our citizens. LEDs are the future of lighting solutions and Chetumal and its municipality are setting the standards for other cities in Latin America and the world to follow,” he added.

The 25,507 GE LED lighting systems will generate estimated energy savings of 51% for the town, when compared to the technology currently in place. These savings are a result of the long life and efficiency of LED technology and GE’s Evolve™ system, voted Best-in-Class in the 2010 Next Generation Luminaires™ Design Competition (The competition, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the International Association of Lighting Designers, cites excellence in the design of energy-efficient LED luminaries for general illumination lighting). Among the advantages of LED lighting are its long life and the possibility of directing light to specific areas, reducing light pollution and glare. LEDs offer brighter, more uniform light that allows for better visibility as well as color rendition. For governments, this means fewer labor hours for replacing lamps, less traffic disruption and a greater sense of security among citizens.

“GE’s goal is to provide innovative, leadership products that help our customers meet their environmental and financial goals, and we believe that LED technology is the future of lighting solutions. We are extremely proud that Mexico has chosen GE for the largest LED public roadway lighting installation in Latin America, and trusted us to be a part of one of the initiatives the country is implementing to meet its domestic environmental needs,” commented Michael J. Petras, president and CEO of GE Lighting.

Avances Lumínicos Plus S.A. de C.V. – GE’s authorized national distributor and exclusive concessionary in the state of Quintana Roo – is responsible for the financing, installation and maintenance of the light-emitting diode (LED) systems employed in the Municipality of Othón P. Blanco through a 15 year concession agreement with the Municipality. “We are very please with the opportunity to work with a trusted brand such as GE to bring our customers in Mexico the best in technology innovation”, says Salomon Marcovich, President and CEO, Avances Luminicos Plus.”

An ambitious project! If proven to be successful, imagine the precedence this would set for other communities and nations around the globe. As many local governments are finding out these days, cut backs, where ever they can make it, count. Why not choose a solution and an investment that pays for itself and more? Upgrading or retrofitting light fixtures to conform with IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) regulations eliminates light pollution 100%. Congratulations Mexico and may you enjoy clearer night skies!

Let there be night!

Artificial light hurts blue-grey slugs and other wildlife

Posted on December 11, 2010 by Noel

Article source

“Everyone can help relieve stress on the remaining habitat of the blue-grey taildropper slug by keeping all outdoor lights directed to the ground and off when not needed.

Light pollution is a fast growing and pervasive form of environmental pollution. Its myriad effects on wildlife include altering behaviours and breeding cycles of many species, which reduce fitness and reproductive success. It can alter predator-prey balance, disrupt food chains and contribute to declining biodiversity.

Any light you project outside adds to the unnatural over-illumination of the outdoors at night. This includes indoor lights when window blinds are not drawn after dark.

Reducing the contribution of light pollution to the erosion of environmental health will benefit all species.

It will also save energy and money, reduce your carbon footprint and help restore the enthralling sight of the night sky from which our ancestors found inspiration, knowledge and pleasure.”

Light pollution affects all creatures possessing a circadian rhythm cycle negatively–nearly all life on Earth. The only way to prevent changes to biodiversity and behavior from light pollution, is to shield all of our lights downward. That way, there is no wasted energy, nor obstructing light. We can make a difference!

Let there be night!

BOS approves revised streetlight policy

Posted on December 8, 2010 by Noel

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“The Board of Supervisors last week approved a revised streetlight policy intended to improve energy efficiency, cut light pollution and help decrease projected increases in operating costs. Since its introduction on July 28, the policy revision has been tweaked in response to supervisor concerns. At the Dec. 1 meeting, William Dupler, interim deputy county administrator for community development, said the staff had been working diligently on the revision and to address supervisors concerns. Three issues prompted the policy’s revision, he said in July: Renewed interest in energy conservation and light pollution, the fact that the policy was last revised in 1988 and increasing costs.

“In our current environment, controlling costs is really going to be imperative for the continuing viability of our community,” he said. “If we can direct our illumination on the ground, it’s a much more efficient use of energy, much more efficient use of our resources.” Currently, the county spends about $644,700 a year operating and maintaining streetlights, a staff report on the revision says. At the current pace, those costs are expected to double as early as 2016, and increase by more than $1 million by 2020, the report says.

According to a summary of the revised policy, a streetlight will be required at the entrance to any new subdivision or subdivision section where the entrance forms an intersection. Developers will pay for the installation, and pay a fee equivalent to the five-year cost to the county for the type of light installed. Additional lighting will be the responsibility of the developer or homeowners associations and will not be added to the county’s streetlight program.

In new commercial and industrial developments, a streetlight will be required at road entrances and exits. Developers will pay for the installation, and pay a fee equivalent to the five-year cost to the county for the type of light installed. Additional lighting will be the responsibility of the developer or operator and will not be added to the county’s streetlight program. In existing residential areas or developments, streetlights should be located at intersections. A requested streetlight that costs less than $300 can be approved by staff. After making a motion to adopt the policy revisions, Matoaca Supervisor Marleen Durfee thanked Dupler “for being patient with the board” throughout the process. Dale Supervisor Jim Holland said he appreciated the hard work that went into the revision.”

It’s astounding how a small change in policy can have such a large impact on communities. When you direct street lights and home property lights downward, it saves not only you energy, but the community as well. In addition, having less street light fixtures, though shielded, can offer the same amount of illumination than additional, more traditional light fixtures would have provided. Rightfully so, if a homeowner wishes to install additional light fixtures on their property, they’re certainly entitled to it, though they should be properly shielded – especially if the community wishes to maintain congruency. That’s the simple truth of the matter: shielded light fixtures eliminate light pollution 100%. As more and more communities across the globe continue to reevaluate their energy budgets, shielding preexisting or newly built light fixtures is an extremely cost effective solution. Once a light is shielded, the only thing requiring additional maintenance would be replacing the bulb itself. We can do this!

Let there be night!

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