Street Lights Off :)

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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Street Lights Off :)

Post by Guest »

I have been meaning to post this for a while now,
Last Thursday I was on my way back home when I noticed it was extremely dark in my street. In fact it was so dark it was difficult to see without my cars lights on. It was quite late so most of the street had turned off their house lights.
Yes, believe it or not the street lights were all off for a good mile or so radius. I looked up and the difference was quite breathtaking. After disabling the security lights in my garden
I had a look for the comet and it was viewable with the unaided eye. With the street lights on I would have had no chance unaided.

It’s a real shame that the street lights stay on after 11PM. If they were turned off at this time imagine the power saving we would have. Although I imagine crime rate would rise or some other reason why we couldn’t have this.

Cheers,
Apollo :D
Apollo
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Post by Apollo »

Sorry about the Guest Post. I was logged in...... I promise :oops:
Should I be able to post as a guest? This has happened twice now? :oops: :oops:
Kaustav
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Sensor lights

Post by Kaustav »

They should install sensor lights for street lighting, coming on when needed and automatically switching off when there is no activity in close proximity to the light source. This would save energy and also cut down on light pollution. Switching lights off completely after 11pm might work in some areas but in other areas it would not be very nice. Many people work late or shifts and do not drive cars, instead opting to use public transport. I doubt a woman or even a man would like to walk down a pitch-dark street in the middle of the night on their way home. It's asking for trouble. Gone are the good old days when you could leave your front door open and pop down to the local bakers to pick up a loaf with no one even batting an eyelid at the fact that your door was wide open. I do remember those days and boy were they good (hell, I'm only 30!), but times-are-a-changin'. I don't know if crime would go up but crime detection would probably be hindered. After my entire family was mugged at night with various body parts broken by thugs attacking us in the middle of the night, the one thing that the street lights helped with has the fact that the CCTV Camera could actually see something and capture it. In total darkness, forget! I've a far better solution; slip in to a parallel universe where there's a light switch at the end of every road and turn the lights off when you go out in to your garden with your 'scope to observe :-P ;-) After much convincing from the light pollution brigade and very patient people explaining the follies of my way, I realised that my security floodlight in my bad garden is totally useless. I stood a friend near my house in the back garden with the 500Watt whopper turned on and then tried to look at him (this is at night time). You know what? All I could see was a black silhouette. Useless! I now have my security light turned off when I'm not actually in the garden and when it is on, I have it turned totally downward. The incidental light reflecting off the wall in to the garden is much softer and I'm not dazzled by the direct glare of the lamp. Works better. I also use a very small low power maglite to flood the IR sensor on my neighbours 500Watt lamp which fools it in to thinking it is day time so I can walk around in my back garden in darkness without lighting up the entire street like a birthday cake on speed ;-)
Kaustav Bhattacharya
>> http://kaustav.uk.com/unisphere/ - An online magazine about Astronomy, Science, Social Media and Society.
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Orchard47
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Post by Orchard47 »

I have got a neighbour who lives two STREETS away who has a security light attached to the back wall of his house which shines right into my garden. Some days, it's on all evening and I can even see to read a newspaper by it! I'm nervous about approaching them about it in case they get awkward and then leave it on all the time. :cry:
Regards, Chris.

14 inch Dob
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Kaustav
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Your solution

Post by Kaustav »

Your solution is simple. I've mentioned this before here in these forums... Procure two or three cheap green or red laser pointer pens. If you have a direct line of sight to the bright light and can see the IR sensor on it, then obtain a high chair/table/ or find an appropriate flat surface and position the laser pointers directly on to the IR sensor of the offending light source. This will fool the lamp on to thinking it is day time and it will not turn on. It works like a dream. I used to do this till I had to return the pen I had borrowed. Now I just use a very low intensity torch which does the same job, although its range is far lower than a laser pointers. You might need to use a pair of binoculars to look at your neighbours lights and ensure you laser pointers are properly aligned. Careful you don't b****r your eyes, those 500Watt lamps are awfully bright.... maybe put on a good pair of sun glasses. It might take you a while, ten mins or so to hit the mark, but you'll be pleased with the end result. I know I was when I thwarted my neighbours light without even ringing their door bell :-)
Last edited by Kaustav on Sun Mar 27, 2005 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Kaustav Bhattacharya
>> http://kaustav.uk.com/unisphere/ - An online magazine about Astronomy, Science, Social Media and Society.
>> Follow me on Twitter @jupiterorbit
Orchard47
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Post by Orchard47 »

Now that's a novel solution! Thanks for that, but I don't think this one is sensor controlled because it stays on for two hours at a time sometimes. I have a laser pen, so I will give it a try.
Regards, Chris.

14 inch Dob
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Kaustav
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Did it work?

Post by Kaustav »

How did it go? Did it work? Most sensor lights have two modes of operation. Sensor and continuous. Hopefully your neighbours light has a sensor. I can see a great product being developed here. A wall mounted laser pointer system with a remote control joystick and about 5 different pens inside the unit which can be direct in five different directions or in union. LOL. Hmm, doubt that'll win the 2006 Prince of Wales award for innovation...
Kaustav Bhattacharya
>> http://kaustav.uk.com/unisphere/ - An online magazine about Astronomy, Science, Social Media and Society.
>> Follow me on Twitter @jupiterorbit
Orchard47
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Post by Orchard47 »

Typical - the light hasn't been on since my last post. They must have read it! I had a look with my binoculars, but there doesn't seem to be a sensor on it.
I will let you know of any further developments.
Regards, Chris.

14 inch Dob
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Jeff
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Post by Jeff »

Orchard47 wrote:I have got a neighbour who lives two STREETS away who has a security light attached to the back wall of his house which shines right into my garden. Some days, it's on all evening and I can even see to read a newspaper by it! I'm nervous about approaching them about it in case they get awkward and then leave it on all the time. :cry:
Do they know you...? If not tell them that their light is keeping your baby awake and could they angle it down or put it on a 1 minute sensor or something...?
I guess this might take a while...
Bunny
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Post by Bunny »

Orchard47 wrote:I have got a neighbour who lives two STREETS away who has a security light attached to the back wall of his house which shines right into my garden. Some days, it's on all evening and I can even see to read a newspaper by it! I'm nervous about approaching them about it in case they get awkward and then leave it on all the time. :cry:
If it is THAT far away, and still a problem, then they are causing a dangerous hazzard. Their lights could easily dazzle drivers and pedestrians, resulting in tragedy!

Also, if their property were to be targetted by burglars, it is unlikely any potential witnesses would see what was going on, as they would be blinded by the glare. If it is a problem for you, then there may be others near you who also object to this light.

I suppose there are a couple of courses of action you could take.

Go round to see them, see if they seem like reasonable people or not, and if so, explain the situation to them. You could follow up by letting them have a look through your scope?

Write them a letter telling them that the light is disturbing you.

Write a letter to the council and the police explaining the situation, and the potential hazzard the light is causing.

It sounds like this light is being used as a weapon rather than a deterrent!
:evil:
Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Bunny
I agree with you.
However, the reality is that most peope think light provides security and , the brighter the better. I doubt the police will take action on the grounds that about light glare unless it is really extreme. There is a golf driving range near the M60 motorway in Greater Manchester. I reckon the glare is dangerous. local residents in Slaford objected to their local council about the glare. Their council said, nothing to do with us the golf driving range is across the border in Eccles, it was Eccles who had given planning permission. The glaring lights remain on even when the driving range is not in use - presumably its advertising!!!
On the other hand you may have problems now making your garden dark by having a high leylandi hedge to stop glare the goverment are providing legislation to stop high hedge growing.
VBEst wishes from the Grumpy Old Codger Cliff
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Post by Bunny »

Hi there Cliff and everyone,

This is an interesting, if tragic illustration of the problem, which I suppose one could cite when putting over the argument against security lighting:



"Life Threatening Dangers

In Oxfordshire, a man was hit by a car and killed after a "security" floodlight temporarily blinded the driver. A bright floodlight, shining from a pub, had obscured his vision. The police carried out a reconstruction of the accident; a policeman noted "When I was driving towards the scene, the officer standing where Mr Smithson [the deceased] would have been was barely visible because of the security light." [source:
The Oxford Mail]
In Australia, two planes collided as they approached the runway at Moorabbin airport. A commercial pilot with 200 hours' flying time died after her plane hit the runway in a ball of flame. Poor visibility because of the impact of surrounding lights was a factor in the crash. An optics consultant says bright surrounding lights at the airport wash out the small amount of light emitted from small aircrafts navigation lights; "You have this enormous collection of lights shining uselessly into the sky, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to see the airport and surrounding planes", he said. A member of the Aviation Medical Society was more blunt. "It's bloody hard to see over Moorabbin now. There are many lights surrounding the airport that are blinding to look at. If a pilot fixates on those lights, you can lose a lot of depth perception and the ability to judge distance. ...close to the airport runway lights and navigation lights, which are vital to safe flying, can be very difficult to find." [source: The Age]
Bad lighting also affects shipping. For example, from the Thames Barge Sailing Club bulletin: "The Medway at night is not easy to navigate; the buoy lights disappear into the bright orange streetlights and powerful jetty lights that are everywhere. ...[We now use a] compass to guide us to the next buoy, which often was invisible until we got very close to it". [source: CfDS website] "

Source (online): http://www.star.le.ac.uk/~dbl/cfds/thep ... 7O#dangers (Accessed 1/June/05)
Orchard47
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Post by Orchard47 »

In Oxfordshire, a man was hit by a car and killed after a "security" floodlight temporarily blinded the driver.
My pet hate is those bright lights they have on motorways at the start end end of a contraflow. They shine right at you and I just can't see the point of them. If they must be used, why don't they shine them down instead of sideways?
Regards, Chris.

14 inch Dob
6 inch Refractor
15 X 80 Bins
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