Tuesday, July 15, 2014 12:00am -0400

Turn Off the Lights and Light Up the Night.

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The August 14, 2003 Blackout The August 14, 2003 Blackout Todd Carlson

As technology progresses we lose the magic of the night. It's a sad reality that many people never look at the stars anymore because they can't see them. They have forgotten there is a night sky at all. We can change this and bring back the awe-inspiring twinkling night that we used to have. We can fight light pollution!

These two images (Above) were taken just one night apart. Amazing difference in the sky when there is no light pollution!

Although the widespread power blackout that occurred on August 14, 2003 was a major inconvenience for most, amateur astronomers across eastern North America quickly realized that the night had the potential for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of observing.

While people passed the night talking to one and another on the street, many couldn't help but notice the vast number of stars that were visible. Many an impromptu star party popped up across neighborhoods as those with telescopes shared their knowledge of the night sky with interested crowds.

Looking directly south from his house approximately 45 minutes north of Toronto, Todd Carlson shot the image on the left the night of the blackout. The following night after the power had been restored and the light pollution was once again enveloping the night sky, the image on the right was taken.

Blackout image: 28mm, f2.8, Fuji 800, approximately 90 seconds, driven.

Light pollution image: 28mm, f2.8, Fuji 800, 30 seconds, tripod mounted.

Blackout Image Source

Before and After Installation of IDA Approved Lighting

You may already be doing what you personally can to combat light pollution by turning off lights and installing proper lighting, but what about your neighborhood and your town?
Even though you would like to reduce light pollution to see the stars, sadly that's not enough reason for others to want to make the change.

 There are many reasons to cut down on light pollution. What many people will listen to is that it will save them money. Why light up the sky and waste energy and money?

 "An estimated 30% of street lighting is wasted light; defined as light that shines up into the sky where it does no good. Based on this number, it is estimated that in the United States alone 22,000 gigawatt-hours a year are wasted. At a conservative average of $.10 per kilowatt-hour, the cost of that wasted energy is $2.2 billion a year – enough to annually fund a new mission to Mars. In other terms, 3.6 tons of coal or 12.9 million barrels of oil are wasted every year to produce this lost light.

The easy solutions to these problems are:

- shield and lower the wattage of all outdoor lighting: Homeowners, businesses, and cities.

- Use only the light you need to get the job done.

- Use timers, dimmers, and sensors to darken unoccupied areas. Shut off the lights when you can.

- Look for IDA-approved 'Fixture Seal of Approval' fixtures at your local stores (Lowe's has recently started carrying a wide variety of affordable, IDA-approved, dark sky friendly lighting)"
- Daniel McVey's Blog on Light Pollution and Energy Waste

Below is what a town in the UK did to reduce light pollution. 

"New Cromarty lights transform lighting and skyglow

Recently the Highland Council replaced the old 1980s globe lights on Cromarty's Marine Terrace with new asymmetric light fittings. The transformation at night has been nothing short of amazing. The globes tended to waste most of their light upwards, with the road and paving below gloomy and fuzzy in the glow. The new lights now light up the road and pavement 'like daytime' as one local resident told me, and there is now extremely little overspill of light into gardens, houses or the beach. Skyglow is almost entirely gone, and when the last few 1970s and 1980s fittings go, then the transformation will be complete."

Above Photo by Colin Dunn

Photo and Story

Learn more about IDSWeek and the impacts light pollution, the artificial brightening of the night sky, has on safety, wildlife, energy waste, and human health at www.darksky.org and LIKE International Dark Sky Association on Facebook to stay involved.

Read 19739 times Last modified on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 4:30pm -0400
Laurel Nendza

Laurel Nendza is the owner and creator of Stellar Eyes.

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