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.

Chronic exposure to dim light at night suppresses immune responses in Siberian hamsters

Posted on January 30, 2011 by Noel

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“Species have been adapted to specific niches optimizing survival and reproduction; however, urbanization by humans has dramatically altered natural habitats. Artificial light at night (LAN), termed ‘light pollution’, is an often overlooked, yet increasing disruptor of habitats, which perturbs physiological processes that rely on precise light information. For example, LAN alters the timing of reproduction and activity in some species, which decreases the odds of successful breeding and increases the threat of predation for these individuals, leading to reduced fitness. LAN also suppresses immune function, an important proxy for survival.

[...]

Taken together, these data suggest that dim light, consistent with typical levels of light pollution from urban development, alters immune function and circadian activity patterns, which could potentially compromise survival. Our study emphasizes the ecological relevance of light pollution on immune function, an important proxy for survival. Under natural conditions, resource limitations and thermoregulatory demands can interact to compromise immune function. Further alterations in immune function by exposure to LAN could potentially reduce the odds of survival. Thus, night-time light exposure should be considered an important contributing factor in species decline. Future studies should address the mechanisms underlying these phenomena and the ultimate consequences of artificial light on ecosystem stability.”

Another interesting study revealing the negative health effects of light pollution.

Let there be night!

Lamenting that we can count the stars

Posted on January 26, 2011 by Noel

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“Poet Ezra Pound must have been very impressed by the electric lights in Manhattan in 1910: “Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.” In 1943, Antoine de Saint-Exupery made a similar comparison about a street lamp and a lamp lighter in “The Little Prince”: “When he lights his lamp, it’s as if he’s bringing one more star to life, or one more flower.”

In the clear night sky of Seoul, you can see about 20 stars. It became rather awkward to use the expression “as many as stars” to describe countless quantity. Light pollution does not just interfere with visibility. Some observatories have shut down as the glow of artificial light make it impossible to study the stars. The Mount Wilson Observatory in California, where Edwin Hubble studied the expansion of universe, shut down its observation operation as the glare from nearby Los Angeles made the night sky six times brighter.

Light pollution has adverse effects on the ecosystem as well. The natural sleep cycle is disturbed, and the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer is increasing, studies show. Migrating birds mistake the artificial light as the moon and get disoriented. Cicadas are singing throughout the day as the night light confuses their sense of time. The artificial lights make creatures great and small go against the laws of nature.

The city of Seoul has recommended rules to prevent light pollution in order to reduce unnecessary lighting. Exterior lights on buildings would not be allowed until 11 p.m. and illumination from street lamps would not reach the windows of residential structures. However, the rules are not legally binding. Observing the stars in urban areas may be as difficult as reaching the stars in the sky.”

If only Ezra Pound and Antoine de Saint-Exupery could see how much light blankets our skies today.

According to a 2007 census report, The Seoul National Capital Area, by all accounts, is a megacity and Seoul proper itself, contains over 10 million residents. As with any megacity, economic, social, and environmental challenges exist. Though many would not consider this a problem, but rather a consequence or virtue of living in a city, light pollution continues to grow everyday around the world. Light pollution contributes to all three challenges listed above.

Economically, communities waste an exorbitant amount on adding new and performing regular maintenance on inefficient light fixtures. If cities continue to waste more money on supplying energy to these light fixtures, then you, the resident or taxpayer, ultimately feel the burden. Hence why many communities around the globe have recently begun to reevaluate their lighting purposes, as well as their lighting ordinances. Some have chose ‘shutting off redundant light fixtures’ as the solution, which is a fine solution, but there’s a better long-term solution. Shielded light fixtures direct the light downward, rather than upward. Directing the light downward concentrates the light, thus creating a more well illuminated area. Unshielded lights can accomplish this, though at the expense of a higher wattage bulb. Think of shielding as ‘more, for less.’ But it doesn’t stop there. To fully maximize the potential of a shielded light fixture, one can couple it with an energy efficient light bulb and a motion sensor. Overall, this ‘lighting trinity’ would save communities the most money due to requiring less energy, fewer light fixtures and light when you need it.

Socially, megacities possess large populations. I think it’s fair to say that some, if not most megacities have a problem regarding crime. The common belief, regarding light and crime, has been to use more light to deter crime. Here’s the truth: more light, actually encourages more criminal activity. Here’s why: excessive light can cause glare. Glare is light that can obscure our vision while driving or walking. Criminals can actually use glare to their advantage, to thwart the authorities. If communities wish to increase safety and reduce crime, I would suggest utilizing motion sensors. Consider the following: if you walked into a dark area where you shouldn’t be and all of a sudden, a bright light illuminated your position, how would you react? The fear of being ‘caught’ in the dark, is enough for potential or real criminals to abandon their efforts. Certainly, crime will continue to occur, but utilizing motion sensors as a deterrent would yield better results than the ‘accepted’ light ordinance most communities utilize.

Environmentally, numerous studies have shown how our bodies, as well as pratically all life on Earth, are adversely affected by light pollution. Nearly all life on Earth functions on a day-night cycle aka circadian rhythm. When something upsets this natural balance, our brains have difficultly coping with the outcome. For example, insomnia, depression and cancer have been linked to light pollution. Certainly, other factors such as stress can affect insomnia, depression and cancer, but the fact remains: light pollution causes health problems. In fact, many animals migratory, feeding and reproducing patterns have been negatively affected. For example, sea turtles populations are on the brink of extinction.

Globally, light pollution is increasingly becoming more and more widespread. What needs to change is how we fundamentally perceive lighting. If all lights utilized proper shielding, then much, if not all of the world’s light pollution would be eradicated. I can not stress the importance of proper shielding enough. Without it, all attempts to curb light pollution will be in vain.

Let there be night!

Ojai woman fights to protect the night sky

Posted on January 24, 2011 by Noel


Photo by Joseph A. Garcia, Joseph A. Garcia / Star staff

The lights from Ojai, and in the distance over the mountains, Santa Paula, light up the skyline. Ojai resident Gail Topping is among a group of environmentalists who are trying to get Ojai to pass a law to force new buildings to have better lights so as not to create as much light pollution.

Article source

“[...]
So the retired psychologist started doing some research. Before long she was drafting a light pollution ordinance for the city aimed at stopping errant spotlights from needlessly throwing light into the night sky. The City Council has expressed interest in pursuing the ordinance. and a city planner is going to draw up a draft in the coming months.

By this summer, when the Milky Way is in all its glory, the city may have a light pollution ordinance on the books.

The specifics of the ordinance are still being worked out, but the biggest effect would be on new construction. It would mandate that lights be shielded from shooting upward and not intrude into outside areas. New building projects may have to include a budget of how much light they will put out. And while existing homes and businesses may not be mandated to shield their lights, light encroachment issues could apply if a neighbor complained about a glaring light.

Beyond blocking out the stars, light pollution can interfere with nocturnal bird migrations, bat behavior and, along the coast, sea turtle movements.

If the ordinance is adopted, Ojai would be among a growing number of locales instituting one, said Bob Parks, executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association. The nonprofit encourages individuals and cities to keep the night sky black. The big drive for cities is not necessarily to curb light pollution, as much as it is to save money, he said.

There are about 200 cities with some kind of light pollution ordinance on the books, he said. In recent years, as cities strive to save money, more are getting interested in expanding or creating comprehensive ordinances. [...]”

Here is the simple fact: unshielded lights pollute our skies. The current trend suggests, as population continues to increase, so will the amount of light pollution. Communities from around the world continue to utilize unshielded light fixtures, causing health problems to humans and animals alike possessing circadian rhythms. This is not a political issue. Seeing the stars at night is a part of the human condition. Our ancestors beheld the heavens above, inspiring many to not only question the purpose of our existence, but to further enrich our understanding of the Universe. Perhaps you can remember a time when you could see a dark, yet glorious night sky above. What did you or cause you to think of? What emotions did it stir within you? These are questions one must answer to oneself.

Let there be night!

Bandon may grow darker, restore nighttime splendor

Posted on January 23, 2011 by Noel

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“Star gazers might want to learn the Bandon Planning Commission will review proposed dark-sky regulations at its Thursday meeting to reduce light pollution.

“We have a federal wildlife refuge at Coquille Point,” said City Planner Charli Davis.

“And well-meaning people have lights in their backyards so they can look at the beach and waves, but it really disorientates wildlife and mating patterns, among other effects.”

Davis said cars that park at the waysides at night also might affect the wildlife, but that’s not the only place light pollution can happen.

Lighted parking lots, street lights, flood lights, industry lights and other sources can cause what she refers to as “surface light” that obscures the night sky.

No stars over Coquille

“We’re trying to look at options and what others have done to keep the usage of lights down so the night sky is more visible and so the lights don’t disrupt wildlife,” she said.

Davis said it’s a timely issue nationwide because the night sky is visible only in few places within cities.

“I drive home to Coquille after meetings, and the only place I can really see the night sky is at Highway 101 at Beaver Hill,” Davis said.

“It’s just amazing the amount of stars you can see, but when I get to Coquille, I don’t see any.”

Retrofit grants

Federal grant money may be available to retrofit existing lights, but she doubts the city will require anyone to do so unless they want to.

The changes won’t happen soon, but the issue will come before the City Council eventually.

“If new lights go up, they may be required to adhere to new standards,” Davis said.”

It’s really that simple. By removing unused and unnecessary light fixtures and shielding the ones that are needed, then everyone can enjoy the offerings of the night time sky. As more and more communities become aware of light pollution, the closer we all are to eliminating it once and for all.

Let there be night!

Researchers Confirm: ‘Light at Night’ Linked to Cancer

Posted on January 19, 2011 by Noel

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“Researchers have confirmed a link between “light at night” pollution and elevated rates of breast cancer and prostate cancer.

The news comes in the wake of a report published from a 10-year study conducted by the University of Haifa’s Biology Department that found that higher-intensity light during sleep can be dangerous. The study, which found a connection between cancer and artificial lighting, adds its voice to those of previous studies that resulted in similar findings.

More than 1,670 Israeli women were involved in the study, which found that those routinely exposed to higher intensity light in their sleeping environment had 22 percent higher odds of developing breast cancer than those who slept in total darkness.

“Bulbs with high-intensity light contribute more to environmental light pollution, and lead to cancer, we found,” said researcher Professor Avraham Haim.

The researchers theorized that LAN (light at night) harms production of melatonin, a hormone that is released from the pineal gland during the dark part of the 24th cycle and which is linked to the body’s night-day cycle of activity and seasonality. Melatonin modulates endogenous estrogen levels.

When the hormone is suppressed, the occurrence of cancer rises, according to the researchers, who published their report in the February issue of Chronobiology International.

Prior Evidence of Link to Cancer
Earlier studies in which Haim participated have shown that people living in areas with more night-time lighting are more susceptible to prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women. A previous, related study published in September by Prof. Haim also demonstrated a link between suppression of melatonin and elevated rates of the disease.

Cancerous growths in mice exposed to “short days” were smallest, and mice exposed to the interval of LAN during dark hours had larger growths. Those exposed to “long days” had the largest growths.

The study also found that suppression of melatonin definitely influenced development of tumors: mice exposed to “long days” but treated with the hormone exhibited tumors the size of those exposed to “short days.” The death rate in mice treated with melatonin was significantly lower than in those not treated, researchers said.

“Exposure to LAN disrupts our biological clock and affects the cyclical rhythm that has developed over hundreds of millions of evolutionary years that were devoid of LAN,” said the researchers. “Light pollution as an environmental problem is gaining awareness around the world.”

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has already classified working the night shift as a higher grade of cancer risk, the researchers added.”

There you have it. Light pollution is inextricably linked with breast and prostate cancer. Let your representatives know about your concerns regarding light pollution and help make our night skies darker.

Let there be night!

Route 100 Test Drives Fewer Lights

Posted on January 17, 2011 by Noel



Article source

“Does Route 100 look a little darker?

Recently, the State Highway Administration (SHA) launched an initiative there to reduce light pollution and energy consumption, according to state officials.

Seventy-five light poles along Route 100– between the Route 29 and Coca-Cola Drive exits – will remain deactivated for the next year as the project runs its course.

The state government chose Route 100 for the project because data showed that the road could have 75 fewer lights and still be safe for motorists, said Geoff McCammon, district community liaison for SHA. The project is part of the state’s initiative to support sustainable growth, he said.

The change took place beginning Dec. 1. Workers deactivated the lights during off-peak travel times so that motorists wouldn’t have to worry about disruption in traffic patterns.

The evaluation period will last one year. Then, said McCammon, “SHA will look at the reduction in energy usage and monitor any changes or patterns in crash data. Customer feedback will also be included as part of the overall evaluation.”

SHA doesn’t have an idea of projected cost savings from the reduction because not all lights are on the same meter. To figure out the overall savings from the pilot project, the administration will determine the cost and energy usage to power an individual highway light and plug in that information.

SHA District Engineer Dave Coyne said in a prepared statement that the money saved could go toward road maintenance.

During the evaluation period, the 75 lights will remain along the highway without power to them. If the lighting reduction becomes permanent, the light poles will be removed and used to repair damaged lights. This would also mean savings for the state, McCammon said.”

Reevaluating what your community needs is an important task bestowed upon you, the citizens. Across the globe, many communities have called for better lighting regulation to improve the quality of the night sky and to reduce energy consumption. Initiatives, similar to the article in question, encourages us to reconsider how much we truly need. If the data from Maine proves that reducing the amount of lights has no effect on accidents, then why should we use them? One of the wonderful benefits of shielded lighting is that since the shielding concentrates the light downward, a shielded light illuminates an area better than several other non-shielded lights would. So contact and participate in your local community and let your voice be heard.

Let there be night!

Photo: Antarctic Telescopes and the Milky Way

Posted on January 15, 2011 by Noel

Photo: Antarctic Telescopes and the Milky Way

Larger image Credit: Keith Vanderlinde, National Science Foundation

The 10-meter South Pole Telescope and the BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) Telescope at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, against the night sky with the Milky Way. The red lights are used to minimize light pollution, but still enable people to see while walking to and from the facility during the six months of darkness. Both of these telescopes collect data on cosmic microwave background radiation and black matter. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is one of three U.S. research stations on the Antarctic continent. All of the stations are operated by the National Science Foundation’s U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). Further information about USAP is available Here. To learn more about the South Pole Telescope, visit the facility’s Web site. (Date of Image: August 2008)

What a stunning image. Granted, given its desolate location, one can expect to see such a sight of the night sky. When it comes to the night sky, the lighting zeitgeist in the past 20 years suggests that only dark skies can be found in remote areas, national parks or inhospitable climates. As more and more studies are released about the ill effects and inefficiencies of light pollution, the more the lighting zeitgeist of the future will change. Communities across the globe have been retrofitting and/or updating their lighting fixtures to accommodate proper shielding. Without proper shielding, all efforts to reduce light pollution are for nothing. We can always perceive and alter the sign of our times; the power lies in us if we wish to let it choose us or we choose it.

Let there be night!

HELP FIGHT LIGHT POLLUTION BY COUNTING STARS

Posted on January 12, 2011 by Noel


You could help fight light pollution by counting stars

“CPRE and the Campaign for Dark Skies are asking people across the United Kingdom to take part in their star count week, H&C has learned. We want to find out which part of the country has the darkest skies and where the most stars can be seen.

By taking part in their star count, you will be helping them to highlight the problem of light pollution which is spoiling the natural beauty of the night sky.

How to do your star count

You can choose any night during the week between 31 January and 6 February, one where there is no haze so you have the best chance of seeing stars. It will get dark from 7.00pm.

CPRE are asking people to count stars within the constellation of Orion to the west. The main area of the constellation is bounded by four bright stars – visit their website to find out how to identify Orion. Make a count of the number of stars you can see with the naked eye (not with telescopes). Complete the survey form at www.cpre.org.uk/campaigns/landscape/light-pollution/start-count-week-2011 so they can plot the results on our star count map which they will publish on our website.”

Residents in the UK, this is your chance to participate in great nationwide study. By identifying the darkest skies, communities can plan accordingly to improve their night sky situation. Light pollution continues to shroud many urban areas around the globe and negatively affect human and animals alike. We can stop light pollution by identifying its immense presence and retrofit or update previous or new light fixtures with proper shielding. Without proper shielding, light can escape upwards into the sky – obfuscating our view.

Let there be night!

Stargazers chart Peak District light pollution

Posted on January 10, 2011 by Noel

Article Source

Light pollution in the Peak District is being measured with the public’s help.
The park authority wants residents and visitors to study the night sky and record how many stars they see.

Organisers are focusing on the distinctive constellation of Orion, asking observers to compare what they see with examples on their website.

By judging how many stars are visible in each report, the authority aims to compile a picture of how much artificial light is escaping.

The first phase of the project is under way, with a second part running from 28 January until 2 February.

Jane Chapman, the 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.”

She added that information gathered would help formulate future policy.”

As it should.

Light pollution continues to taint our dark skies around the world, altering circadian rhythm creatures (nearly all life on Earth) and wasting a staggering amount of electricity. The heart of the problem lies in how we perceive our lighting fixtures. The rule of thumb for the past century, has been ‘more is better’. Naturally, as populations in cities increase, the need for additional light fixtures to illuminate said cities increases. Rather than using shielded light fixtures, most communities around the world chose unshielded light fixtures. As a consequence, communities must build ‘more than what is needed,’ to compensate for the loss of light from unshielded light fixtures. Though there is an easy fix: shielding. Utilizing shielding will reduce the number of said light fixtures, due to concentrating the light where it is needed most: downward. When the light is positioned downward, it uses its electricity more efficiently and its lumens more effectively. Retrofitting preexisting unshielded light fixtures with a shielding apparatus would do wonders. It would lower the wattage required for the bulb, consume less electricity and lower the amount of fixtures and repairs needed for these newly retrofitted lights. Whether retrofitting or outfitting your lighting needs, Starry Night Lights has what you need.

Let there be night!

Friday Finds: Lights Out for Light Pollution

Posted on January 9, 2011 by Noel

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NASA.

Americans see the light on night bright cities

Approximately 300 counties, cities and towns are beginning to see the light on excessive light pollution by enacting so-called dark-sky legislation that’s supported by treehuggers and army brats alike, reports USA Today. Light pollution doesn’t just keep you up past your bedtime. Over the years, studies have accused light pollution of causing everything from animal disturbances to bungled military drills and increased air pollution, not to mention all that energy that’s being wasted by keeping the lights on when nobody’s home.”

It’s true: Light pollution is a menace. Aside from its financial burdens it creates, light pollution also creates health problems for nearly all life on Earth (those possessing a circadian rhythm). It has grown into a global pandemic. We can put an end to it by adopting a new light principle, which includes 100% shielded fixtures from emitting glow, glare and light trespass.

Let there be night!

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