Being into astronomy, I HATE bad outdoor lighting. It’s everywhere and it seems to be spreading faster than ever. Every new building seems to need 24-hour daytime lighting.
Do I really need to shop for a car from a mile away?
Do our empty parking lots get scared of the dark?
Do we really think the outside of a building is more interesting than a starry sky?
Did I ask my neighbors to shine their porchlights on my property?
I know what you mean. Recently, I discovered that simply shielding my eyes from the neighbor’s outdoor lights seemed to cause stars to appear. Imagine how much more I’d seen if he’d actually turned them off!
I am also into astronomy .Where I live there are new car places going in every day! To make it worse there is a street light right under Polaris which makes lining up my scope real annoying.
Just think, ideally, you should be able to see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, 6 of the planets (not including Earth), a galaxy or two, etc., all without a telescope. I can only see a few dozen stars from my home (a bit more if I dark-adapt my eyes for 30 minutes).
Thanks for responding - - I’m glad I’m not the only one that is bothered by this (although it seems like it at times). Of course there’s the Dark Sky Association and all, but it’s a small group.
The irony is that it can be fixed and everyone would benefit, but it’s something few people think about or even realize.
I lived in South Dakota for a long time. Out in the country, seven miles from town. I saw stars I didn’t know existed, especially during the winters. During those bitterly cold, cloudless nights, the stars looked to be close enough to touch. God, I did love it so and I do (sometimes) miss that aspect of South Dakota living.
I wish everyone could have a chance to see the night sky under those conditions. If one did not come away from that experience awed and humbled, one would have to be entirely self-absorbed.
South Dakota in the winter time is not much of a tourist attraction, but if one has an interest in astronomy, the conditions are ideal.
Seven miles from town & you probably still had a little light pollution on the horizon. It’s amazing how far it carries.
I definitely agree that a clear view of a starry sky is one of the most majestic sights there is. It would do everyone some good to check it out at least once.
My best views were in the desert of New Mexico, the plains of Wyoming, and the mountains of northern New Hampshire. I live in New England - which is awash in light pollution if you’ve seen satellite photos.
I enjoy astronomy, too; as a child I had a subscription to Odyssey Magazine. Then I lived out in the country and could see all the things you describe, but now I live in the 'burbs and am blinded by porchlights.
porchlights should light a porch, not a neighborhood
I always forget how few stars we can see here (New England suburbia) until we go to Vermont. It just floors me every time.
There’s another reason to dislike light pollution. If you garden, your plants won’t grow as well because they don’t get the proper cues from daylight/darkness ratios. For lack of a better word, they don’t “sleep” properly.
I too deal with New England suburbia.
That’s interesting about garden plants. I’ve heard
(once) that trees don’t grow as well with 24-hour light, but I have not been able to find any actual documentation of whether it is true or not.
I’m always looking for more reasons to dislike light pollution
Here are the typical reasons…
- drowns out a starry sky
- wastes money/electricity
- creates a driving hazard (glare)
- it’s rude to neighbors
- it disturbs wildlife
- it kills wildlife (e.g., hatched sea turtles that head toward a lit road rather than the ocean & migratory birds that smack into lit towers or their support wires)
- it’s ugly
- it hinders scientific progress in astronomy
- it yet another missing link in our connection to nature
I just picked up yet another gardening book- Roses Love Garlic by Louise Riotte (companion planting for flowers), that has a short chapter on this subject.
The amount of sunlight which a plant needs each day is called its photoperiod…The growth pattern is altered when plants are near the night lights because the plants grow when the should be “sleeping.” This is detrimental to trees, particularly in northern regions, because they continue to grow in the fall when daylight is shorter and they should be ceasing growth to prepare for winter. New growth is moist and tender. When a tree continues to grow well into the frost season, it becomes more sensitive and is more easily injured…
Natural sunlight gives off light in the visible region from blue to green to yellow to red. The red region of the spectrum regulates the photoperiod. Chlorophyll for photosynthesis…is activated by red and blue…Research by the United States Department of Agriculture indicates the red part of the spectum is the growth-triggering light. During the twenty-four-hour period of a day, the light-dark cycles trigger the flowering, branching, dormancy, bulbing (as with onions), and other plant-growth responses…
High-pressure sodium lamps are twice as efficient (for lighting purposes) as the mercury vapor lamp, and emit more red and yellow light…
(I)t was found that plants near the sodium lamps grew more rapidly into the fall season and also grew much later than plants of a like age that had been screened from night lighting. Trees which had been exposed to the light suffered severe winter die-back the following spring
(end of quote)
now maybe I can convince my town council that lighting the trees in the park is not a good idea (many towns shine lights up into trees in order to “beautify” an area :rolleyes:)
while I’m griping…let me add that lighting a flagpole has got to be one of the most wasteful uses of lights I’ve seen. What, like 1% of the light actually hits?