The Use and Abuse of Street Lighting

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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Post by Brian »

Paul Sutherland wrote: Even without using a separate text editor, you could just copy the box contents to your memory buffer before sending as a safeguard.

Dear Paul,

great suggestion, Thanks :) I'll try to remember
that one.

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Post by Deimos »

Partially relevant to this (or maybe just the forum - Light Pollution) and it didn't seem worth starting a new thread about it. Also it is not about the evil/waste of street lighting but differentiates between ELP and PLP - different forms of light pollution with different impact, causes, etc.

Just thought people might be interested.

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Post by Cliff »

Dear Deimos
I found the article you just pointed us at of some but limited interest to me personally. There is an old saying something about "not being able to see the wood for the trees".
Even so there is something to be said for being at least aware of as many factors that might come into equations, as possible, helping to avoid fringe matters muddying the waters.
Best of luck from Cliff
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Street lighting and crime

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Sorry, butI still believe that street lighting encourages crime. First there is the evidence of the Chicago Alley Lighting Project. Two demographically similar areas were compared in which one received a substantial amount of "improved" lighting, while the other only had few improvements. In the area with substantial "improvements" the crime rate went up significantly. The point to make was that in neither area was there a reduction in crime.
The report can be seen here: ... clnk&gl=uk
The second point to remember is that during power failures when all the street lighting goes off, criminality drops to zero. This has been reported in New Zealand where it was commented up by police officials after a power failure in Aukland. I also have personal experience of this from Bangladesh where i lived for almost two years. There they suffer regular power failures. as many as two per night in addition to others during the day, and I never heard of any instances of looting, rapes or any other types of serious crime. Furthermore I was able to walk around at night without fear of being mugged, despite the abject poverty that surrounded me
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Colin
The problem is that lighting is popular.
Apart from the supposed developed world general public's general attitude "needing\wanting more lighting the developed world's media stirs up the public's "want" of more lighting. TV studioes employ specialist lighting engineers inevitably TV producers and presenrters are involved with the lighting fraternity- let's face it they are hardly likely to condemn lighting. In my opinion TV is responsible (or at least partly responsible for many of our developed worrld problems. The current economic problems are partly blameable on TV's excessive promotion of commercialism - advertising for one. But in some ways even worse because advertising is an obvious culprit but we all fall for it. But there are "semi-educational" programmes telling you how to buy ever more expensive houses, improve your house, cook an expensive meal using a variety of expensive gredients that few of the population had ever heard of a few years ago - not to mention transporting food half way round the World to have the same ingredients available all year round.
And where does it all end up - Space Tourism.
So basically I can only say I might agree with you about the lighting excesses but humanity may not have long to go anyway. The World might be better without us or most of "them" anyway.
We have some Shelterd Housing Old folks bungalows very near our back garden. Over the years the number of security lights have increased to five all visible from my observing location (two are on all night , three are infra red triggered so not so bad) I talked to one of the resisents recently. the old folks have had quite a few robberies - yobs on occasions even kick their doors in, in broad daylight. they have no permanent living in full time warden now - presumably a result of the economic crunch.
Best of luck from Cliff
Best of luck from Cliff
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Re: The Use and Abuse of Street Lighting

Post by astroeyes »


6) No member of the community should be forced to live with street lighting outside their property. If they request that it be removed, then those responsible are duty bound to remove it, and not parrot out irrelevant concerns about road safety or security. If such cases are ignored, either by neighbours or the local authority, the householder is not being respected and his/her right to darkness is being violated. [/b][/b]

I would be interested to know if this is in fact true. I've just had a street light installed outside my house. It's incredibly bright and although well shielded to the sky, it allows intensely bright horizontal main beams and side beams to illuminate vast areas of the road and peoples houses. I originally requested it not to be placed outside my house but the request was ignored. I've requested shielding and a reduction in brightness - we'll see what happens. I would like to request the thing be moved if I've got a leg to stand on.
They are better for astronomers, though. Or better than the old orange things anyway.
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Post by RB »


Have alook here

specifically at Q.13. You might pick up some useful info.
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Post by Cliff »

Dear David
As far as I am concerned our local authority have no interest in reducing light pollution as such. Indeed I was once told that I had no right in expecting to do astronomy from an urban area. Admittedly that was a few years ago ( about 15 years I think) but I have recently had reason to think my local authority hasn't improved its ideas about light pollution much.
However, that said about 5 years ago now the LA provided "improved" streetlighting in our street. I wasn't happy about it myself because in doing so they increased the luminaire wattage from 35 w low pressure sodium to 70 watts High Pressure keeping the lights spaced the same distance apart as before but increased their height by a full metre.
Arguably the new lights are more astronomy friendly being supposedly better downward directed with more efficient reflectors but that is mainly because the old low pressure sodium lights were never satisfactorily shielded - high pressure sodium being smaller light sources so reflectors are easier\cheaper. However, the higher lighting columns can result in the HPS lights being a sod for astronomers if they happen to shine into your garden or for anyone else if for example they shine through your bedroom window.
That said to be fair on our local authority when they put up their new higher wattage street lights on taller columns and the one positioned only 4 metres from our front bedroom shone through our thick curtains - when my wife complained about it the LA did put some shielding on the back of the light making things slightly better.
Years back I was invited by a streetlighting engineer to go with him to discuss a street lighting problem with an amateur astronomer. The astronomer asked the LA to move a streetlight adjacent his property - They wouldn't !
He then requested they took out the new higher wattage streetlight and replace it with an older LPS less wattage streetlight - They wouldn't , using the excuse that the old lamp being orange LPS and less bright than the new HPS would illegally affect road safety.
Ironically a few months later our LA provided new lighting not far from here and I note an old orange LPS streetlight left up for much more than a year before it was eventually changed.
Of course I suppose the problem is\was if they had obliged the astronomer by putting an old streetlight back in - half the neighbourhood might want the same thing.
Whatever, David I hope you get some satisfaction in getting the offending light sorted out.
Best wishes from Cliff
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Post by hunterknox »

I must say I've found RB's contributions to this thread to be very interesting. Reminds me of that old quote about engineers that I'll have to paraphrase in this context: any fool can light up a road. It takes an lighting engineer to light up just the road.
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