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.

Lights dimming at Ira Needles development

Posted on February 28, 2011 by Noel

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“The Ira Needles Boardwalk commercial development is seen in Waterloo Region in this undated image taken from video.

The lights at the new Ira Needles Boardwalk commercial development may be shining a little less brightly, after complaints from some local star-gazers.

Some businesses in the $100-million development opened late last year, and since then concerns about light pollution and wasted energy have been raised.

And while it is clear businesses need to try to be noticed, and make those shopping at night feel secure, it appears a compromise has been reached.

The project’s developer says energy-efficient LED lighting has been installed and some adjustments are being made to reduce the number of hours the lights are on and also to direct it to where it needs to go.

Those changes are being welcomed by Steve Holmes, president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

“It isn’t even so much the overuse of light as it is the inappropriate use of light,” he says. “As long as the light does not spill off the property it’s really none of our business. But once it starts to project out onto the surrounding neighbourhood and in particular into the sky for us, if the lights are inappropriately aimed that becomes a big problem.”

The main concern was that there was too much light, too much of the time, coming from both the buildings and the light standards in the parking lots.

Steve Voisin, a Boardwalk developer, says “Our parking lot lights at the theatre stay on later than at the rest of the stores, but the rest of the stores as soon as they close they turn off the parking lot lights.”

The lights are also shining downwards, limiting the light pollution.

Holmes says “We don’t think that K-W is ever going to be a place where you can get a good look at the Milky Way at night, but on the other hand we just think that it makes sense when we tell our kids to turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn off the lights when you leave parking lot also makes good sense.”

It’s a case where some positive changes came about, Holmes says, because the developer was willing to listen to their concerns.

Voisin says “We’re here to listen to the residents, we’re here to listen to the astronomy group and we’re approachable.”

Holmes says the Astronomical Society hopes to be more proactive about lighting in the future when these types of developments are in the planning stages.”

Let there be night!

Boardwalks retailers agree to turn down the lights at night

Posted on February 27, 2011 by Noel

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Image credit: Philip Walker/Record staff

Lighting The Boardwalk power centre in Waterloo is brightly lit for nighttime shoppers, but those lights will be turned off after business hours, developer Steve Voisin says.

WATERLOO REGION — In the dead of night, some residents say Pitfield Place in Waterloo looks more like a sunny Saturday afternoon.

“It’s just so lit up, we don’t have any nighttime,” Maureen Innes said.

Innes’ house is across the street from the bright lights of the Empire Theatres at The Boardwalk development on Ira Needles Boulevard.

But things should change now, thanks to a collaborative effort between astronomers and Voisin Developments.

“The goal is really simple, and the steps are really simple. Basically, if the store is closed, turn off the lights,” said Shaun Nielson of the local astronomical society.

Empire Theatres will now turn their LED sign off at night, and dim the brightness during the day. Walmart, Lowes and Empire Theatres will turn their parking lot lights off at night when everything is closed.

Nielson and his group have advocated the reduction of light pollution in the city to do more than improve their stargazing.

According to the International Dark-Sky Association, excessive lighting has detrimental health effects, including reducing melatonin production, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep cycle.

“It’s a logical step to change your operation so you’re not wasting electricity,” said Steve Voisin of Voisin Developments.

When a new CIBC and TD Bank open at the location at the end of March, Voisin said they will pay attention to turning off excessive lighting, but lights will stay on in “strategic areas so there isn’t a safety issue.”

Waterloo council has recently weighed in on the issue, beginning work on a “master sign plan” for illumination along Ira Needles Boulevard.

“I think lighting in general and energy consumption hasn’t been tightly regulated by municipal bylaws,” Voisin said.

Along with Nielson, he hopes the new lighting procedures at The Boardwalk will be the tipping point for other developments in the city — current and future.

“Nowadays you just shouldn’t waste electricity from a business standpoint, but there are a lot of companies that end up wasting electricity.”

Nielson’s group will now focus on the Sobeys and Shoppers Drug Mart nearby.

“We’re not asking anyone to live in darkness,” Nielson said.

“We’re just asking people to take notice of the problem that’s occurring and take some small steps to help change it.”

Let there be night!

Student studies light pollution in Ottawa skies

Posted on February 23, 2011 by Noel

Stacy Glasburg, 13, measures light pollution in Ottawa. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

“A Grade 8 student has spent months driving around Ottawa at night to measure levels of light pollution in the city.

Stacy Glasburg, 13, started to document light levels in the city as part of a science fair project at her school called “The Dark Side of Light.” Each night she drives around Ottawa with her father, aiming a sky quality meter borrowed from the Royal Astronomical Society at buildings that fog the night sky around them in light.

Glasburg has charted her results — light intensity is measured in lux figures — and hopes to present her research to Ottawa’s city council to raise awareness about excessive artificial light.

“It’s not a very talked about type of pollution,” Glasburg said, adding people think of pollution mostly in terms of garbage and oil spills.

Light pollution, she said, “doesn’t harm the world as much as it harms the humans and the animals and insects.”

Biologists have long complained about light pollution‘s effect on migratory birds, and some studies have been launched into the effects of constant light on human sleep cycles.

And for the public, light pollution robs the view of a starry night sky.

Astronomical society hopes to expand study

Glasburg’s results have been so impressive that the Royal Astronomical Society is hoping to expand studies like hers across Canada.

“I thought ‘this is great, nobody’s done this before — not to this degree,’” said Robert Dick, who runs the society’s light pollution program.

“Because light pollution is so new there isn’t much data on it. And it’s really grassroots data like the stuff Stacy got that’s what you use to design or develop a lighting policy for a city.”

Glasburg said she hopes her research will eventually lead the city to pass legislation to clean up some of Ottawa’s most luminous areas.”

Keep on fighting the good fight Ms. Glasburg! Advocates for darker skies, such as yourself, help inspire others to rethink how we illuminate our natural surroundings. Starry Night Lights wishes to congratulate you for your fantastic research and helping raise the awareness of light pollution to fellow Ottawanians.

Let there be night!

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Posted on February 21, 2011 by Noel

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2011 February 21

Milky Way Over Switzerland
Credit: Stephane Vetter (Nuits sacrees)

“Explanation: What’s visible in the night sky during this time of year? To help illustrate the answer, a beautiful land, cloud, and skyscape was captured earlier this month over Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Visible in the foreground were the snow covered cliffs of the amphitheater shaped Creux du Van, as well as distant trees, and town-lit clouds. Visible in the night sky (at midnight) were galaxies including the long arch of the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy (M31), and the Triangulum galaxy (M33). Star clusters visible included NGC 752, M34, M35, M41, the double cluster, and the Beehive (M44). Nebulas visible included the Orion Nebula (M42), NGC 7822, IC 1396, the Rosette Nebula, the Flaming Star Nebula, the California Nebula, the Heart and Soul Nebulas, and the Pacman Nebula. Rolling your cursor over the above image will bring up labels for all of these. But the above wide angle sky image captured even more sky wonders. What other nebulas can you find in the above image?”

Beautiful photo. Such picturesque photos were once a reality everyone around the world once enjoyed. Hard to believe, eh? We can still achieve such pristine skies again, if we choose to radically change how we perceive light fixtures. The ‘more is better’ mantra is a zeitgeist nearly all communities around believe in. Here’s the truth: it’s a fallacy. By utilizing proper shielding, one can effectively diminish the number of required light fixtures to illuminate the same area. Rather than ‘more is better’, we should shift towards ‘less is better’. Numerous studies have linked cancerous ailments, as well as disruption in creatures’ (human alike) circadian rhythm with light pollution. Reach for the stars!

Let there be night!

Residents oppose plans for illuminated signs at Bridport Lidl

Posted on February 19, 2011 by Noel

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“RESIDENTS living near Lidl in St Andrew’s Road, Bridport are fighting plans for the new store’s illuminated signs.

A delegation spoke to Bridport Town councillors at their recent planning meeting saying the lights would be ‘large and orange and unacceptable’.

Amanda Lancashire, who lives less than 60 yards from the proposed lights, said they would shine directly into her window.

She also described the proposed illuminations as ‘big, brash and unacceptable’.

The store’s lights are already often on until after midnight and on again at 5.45am, she said.

Rita Turner said the signs would shine right into her property.

She said the store’s parking and external lights were already on far longer than they were supposed to be – well beyond the agreed half-an-hour before and after opening hours.

Mrs Turner said if they were already not abiding by the rules in their own planning application they were unlikely to do what they said with illuminated signs.

She added: “In a world where everyone is trying to cut down on electricity as well as light pollution it is totally unnecessary.”

Town councillors agreed to oppose the application on the grounds that the level of visual intrusion and light pollution the lights would cause were out of keeping both with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the conservation area.”

Given the outrage in this article, I can only surmise that the lighting proposal contained no shielding on the proposed light fixtures. If the proposed lights possess no shielding whatsoever, then they will pollute the night sky and lower people’s quality of life. Shield the lights, for clearer nights. It’s that simple. When lights possess proper shielding, less light fixtures are needed to produce the same effect from unshielded light fixtures. The store gets to illuminate its premises and residents will have no light trespassing on their premises. It’s a win-win situation.

Let there be night!

How Many Stars?

Posted on February 16, 2011 by Noel

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Light Pollution

Light pollution arises from careless and often misguided exterior night lighting practices. Light pollution wastes energy, causes hazardous glare, increases the production of greenhouse gases, and compromises public safety.

What is Light Pollution?

Air pollution in the form of smog and haze can significantly reduce the number of stars which are visible to the naked eye, even on a dark moonless night. However, light pollution is just as bad (or in some cases worse) than other forms of pollution.

As the diagram above shows, light pollution blots out the stars. However, the effect can be reduced by simply using properly shielded outdoor lighting fixtures.

Myth 1: The brighter the better. WRONG!


The human eye responds differently to low levels of illumination than to high levels of illumination. When levels of illumination are low, the human eye adapts and becomes much more sensitive to the available light.

Ever wonder why your bedroom seems so dark when you first turn off the lights and then, after about 20 minutes or so, the room seems much brighter? This is called “dark adaption” or “night vision”.

Constant and uniform levels of nighttime lighting at a moderately low level provide the best all-round visibility of your surroundings.

Light which can be seen coming directly from exposed lamps destroys night vision, causes “blinding” glare, and wastes energy, allowing light to reach the sky instead of the ground.

Myth 2: Bright lights enhance public safety. WRONG!


Unshielded bright lights create extreme levels of contrast by producing areas of dark shadows adjacent to areas of intense glare.

Studies have shown that brightly illuminated areas having a dark perimeter (the area you see with your back to the light) are less safe than the same area having no artificial light source whatsoever!

Both glare and deep shadow obscure your vision – a very unsafe situation.

Myth 3: All lights are the same. WRONG!


Outdoor lamps which allow light to shine above the horizon are wasteful of energy, and since they use electricity, they indirectly contribute to the production of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide.

Unshielded lights produce glare that contributes to “light-trespass” (the shining of unwanted light onto neighbouring properties) and cause poor visual adaptation.

Properly shielded lights can use less wattage to attain the same ground level illumination, thereby saving energy costs. Using less energy also means producing lower levels of greenhouse gases from fossil fueled electrical power generation stations.

Myth 4: Cheap lights save money. WRONG!


Well shielded lights, which reflect all light to the ground and cut-off horizontal glare, require lower wattage bulbs to achieve the same level of ground illumination as lights which allow extraneous light to escape into the sky.

In the long run, the extra money invested in well designed lighting fixtures more than pays back the investment, because of much lower long-term energy costs.

Myth 5: Nobody really cares about the night sky. WRONG!


Highly illuminated urban areas are known to confuse transient migrating birds and to upset the natural survival rhythms of many nocturnal animals.

Light pollution also causes stars to be “lost” in the bright background, effectively destroying our ability to see the natural beauty of the night sky.”

The Canadian Space agency did a marvelous job on outlining the dangers of light pollution. Well done!

Let there be night!

Ariz. businesses, astronomers clash over light

Posted on February 14, 2011 by Noel

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“PHOENIX (AP) – The Maricopa Association of Governments is seeking public comments on its efforts to limit light pollution in the Phoenix area, an idea that pits businesses against astronomers.

The coalition of local governments serves as a planning agency for the Phoenix area. While it is designing model outdoor-lighting ordinances, it does not have authority to enforce the proposed standards and cities would decide how much of the code they will apply.

The association plans a public meeting Tuesday to discuss the proposals for outdoor lighting.

Astronomers say limited outdoor lighting is crucial to stargazing and astronomical research is lucrative for Arizona.

Businesses have formed their own coalition to block the recommendations, which they say could jeopardize small businesses.

They object, for example, to the possibility of a curfew on illuminated signs.”

The only thing ‘bad for business’ about light pollution, is its effects on our health (human and creatures alike) and the environment. Certainly, businesses may lament about the initial fee retrofitting preexisting light fixtures may pose to their establishments -fair enough- but consider the long term investment. Aren’t most companies created as a long term, sustainable source of income? Why not maximize your business, by reducing operating costs on electricity and cashing in how marketable ‘green’ has become. It’s a win-win situation.

Let there be night!

Mexico City Illuminates Heritage Park with Carmanah Technology’s Latest Solar LED Outdoor Streetlight: EG300-Series

Posted on February 12, 2011 by Noel

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“A historically significant heritage park located in Delegacion Miguel Hidalgo, Mexico City, is illuminating its pathways with EG340 solar LED outdoor lighting systems designed by Carmanah Technologies (TSX: CMH). The EG300-series solar lighting system, the company’s latest product, was chosen by the City for the Parque Caneguin on the basis of lighting performance, aesthetic design, and cost savings achieved in installation. The EG300-series is specifically designed to meet requirements of lighting applications in sun-belt regions of the world. This order represents one of the initial launch installations within a key market for the new EG300-series product. Parque Caneguin is also recognized by the Insistuto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH) as a Mexico City heritage site as well as being valued by the community as the “lungs” of the district.

Parque Caneguin, one of Mexico City’s largest urban parks, exhibits a number of important architectural and art deco examples from the 1920s. The park’s historical distinction by the City and community provided a unique set of challenges when pathway lighting improvements were explored. In combination with illuminating the park’s various historical attractions and classic architecture, increased after-hours lighting would provide tourists and the community with an increased sense of security and would lengthen the number of hours the park could be used each day. According to a representative for the City, the aesthetic form factor of the EG300-series would help blend into the overall look and feel of the central city green space as well as provide an installation that would preserve the integrity of the heritage site. Being powered entirely from the integrated solar panel, solar LED outdoor lighting systems eliminate the need to run cable through the park and can be installed faster than traditional grid-based streetlights.

The recommendation to enlist the EG340 solar LED outdoor lighting system to solve the park’s various challenges was made by local lighting agent, Industrial Rocava S.A. de C.V. “We knew Mexico, DF, was looking to install solar LED lighting in the Parque Caneguin and we felt strongly that the Carmanah EG340 was the right solution,” says Roberto Carrilo, Director for Rocava S.A. de C.V. “Once our client saw the aesthetic design, the focused light output of the EG340 lighting layout, and the strong reputation of Carmanah products, they agreed.”

Ideal for roadway, park and pathway applications, the EG300-series also features Dark-Sky friendly BetaLED fixtures, which inhibit light pollution and ‘sky glow’. During the day, the EG300-series will also stand as a visible symbol of the City and community’s joint commitment to eco-friendly infrastructure.

“With an increase in attention to sustainable lighting solutions, we are seeing a growing demand for solar LED lighting for outdoor applications,” said Ted Lattimore, Carmanah CEO. “As was the case with this installation, Carmanah solar LED lighting systems tend to stand out because of their ability to meet specified light output requirements and fit in aesthetically with their environment.””

Congratulations Mexico City! May you enjoy darker skies for future generations to come!

Let there be night!

UK adults need to sleep more, survey suggests

Posted on February 10, 2011 by Noel

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“People throughout the UK need to do more to spend time in their beds, the results of a YouGov survey have suggested.

The research group found that 23 per cent of people have six hours rest per night, while nine per cent revealed they get their head down for five hours or fewer.

On average, an adult in the UK rests for 6.9 hours, which is just below the recommended amount of seven hours.

Adults between the ages of 25 and 39 are the least likely to have enough shut-eye, as 65 per cent of this age group said they do not get enough hours per night.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England recently claimed that light pollution is having a negative impact on people’s sleeping patterns as they attempt to rest on their mattress.

It also explained how excessive light pollution can have an impact on wildlife all over the country.”

Light pollution hinders ones ability to sleep on a chemical level. Without darkness, our bodies can not produce serotonin. Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies, which aids in regulating our moods, appetites, sleep, muscle contractions, memory and learning. If something were to disrupt our serotonin levels, typically a telltale sign of disruption is depression. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Studies have proven a strong correlation between breast cancer and light pollution exists. Not only from an economic standpoint, does eliminating light pollution sound sound, but from a circadian rhythm (nearly all life on Earth, humans included) standpoint, it’s a no brainer.

Let there be night!

Ecumen Senior Housing Development Achieves LEED Certification

Posted on February 7, 2011 by Noel

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“A new senior housing community in Bemidji, Minn., developed by Ecumen has received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Ecumen developed the LEED-certified community, which opened in 2009, for North Country Health Services. Called WoodsEdge at North Country, the Bemidji site has 107 apartments, which include independent living, assisted living and memory care.

“Green senior housing will undoubtedly become a larger part of the country’s landscape,” said Steve Ordahl, Ecumen senior vice president of business and fund development. “I anticipate we’ll begin to see that reflected more and more in land use. For example, one opportunity we see is more village-type housing concepts that integrate intergenerational housing, dining, shopping, recreation and other features in one location.”

Innovation in design, water efficiency, light pollution reduction, and energy use are among the categories the U.S. Green Building Council awarded points to the Ecumen project.

Nearly 600,000 square feet of native plantings surround WoodsEdge at North Country. Potable water use is being reduced by 23 percent through the use of water-efficient sinks, showers and toilets. More than 900 tons of construction waste was diverted from landfills to recycling. Many of the building materials originated within 500 miles of the site. Underground parking at the site lessens impervious space and reduces storm water runoff. Preferred parking spaces are featured for low-emitting and fuel efficient vehicles. Light waste was reduced through energy efficient lighting. And a number of the interior design features are created from recycled materials.

Ecumen, which is based in Shoreview, Minn., is the most innovative leader of senior housing and services, empowering individuals to live richer and fuller lives. Ecumen provides a wide array of senior housing and services, including a senior housing development division that provides consulting and management services nationally. Ecumen has been named 6 years in a row by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal as one of Minnesota’s Best Places to Work.”

Materially, we all live in a finite world. As our world continues to grow in size, the amount of stress species around the globe puts on our planet increases. Plain and simple. There is a solution to lessen the amount of stress we as humans put on our environment: sustainability through increased efficiency. Whether it be light fixtures, power plants, electronics, natural resources, or waste, the increased efficiency equates to the same or more for less. That’s where the LEED certification comes in. The LEED certification evaluates both existing or future buildings’ impact on the environment, noted above in the article above. One of the metrics used to evaluate a building lies in how efficient its light fixtures are. It should be duly noted, that a light bulb with a high efficiency rating does not, in itself, reduce nor eliminate light pollution. It’s all about the shielding. When choosing to modify or purchase a new light fixture, make sure it’s 100% shielded, to ensure darker skies for everyone to enjoy!

Let there be night!


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