This is probably obvious, but....

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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Mitch
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This is probably obvious, but....

Post by Mitch »

I'm sure that in days of old (I'm only in my 40's btw), didn't they used to turn off the street lamps past a certain time of night?

Imagine if they only switched off 1 in 2, or more on motorways after say 10.00pm, I wonder what the savings in energy consumption might be?

There must be plenty of places where we don't actually need all the street lights, but I guess it would cost too much to implement an intelligent on/off system.

I can't help feeling though that there's some hidden agenda somewhere, like, what would the power stations do overnight if we switched off the street lights at 11.00pm??

cheers
Mitch
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A
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Post by A »

Hi

Yes, some councils did turn the lights off in the old days.


I also remeber that shortly after the power strikes in the 70's,
there was a campaign called 'Save It', where the general public
were encouraged to save energy. Where did it all go wrong?
Mitch
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Post by Mitch »

Well, I'm not normally a conspiracy theorist or anything, far from it in fact, but I wouldn't mind betting that when the National Grid was privatised there was some kind of agreement that they would get a minimum demand around the clock. If we switched off the street lights I reckon that demand would fall below expectations.

Does anyone fancy starting a petition?

The only time that I've seen the milky way was on a holiday in North Wales in the mid 80's. I was staying with a bunch of friends in an old farm house miles from anywhere. I'd gone outside for a smoke (gave it up 3 years ago) and I suddenly realised it was pitch black. I instinctively looked up to the sky and wow, the view was fantastic.

Am I wrong though in assuming that some of the light pollution is also caused by smog?

cheers
Mitch
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Lawrie
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Post by Lawrie »

I put a note in about this back down this forum ("Energy Waste"). It was common practice years ago to turn off the street lights sometime after midnight. But no more - I had a long job persuading my local parish council to ask for our street lights just to be reduced in height.
By all means start a petition and complain. It seems to have worked in Barnsley.
The "Save It" campaign run by the electricity boards was a "scam" devised by "creative accountants" introducing "Standing Charges". Up to then you paid for what you used. But the "cash-flow " was better and the "Save It" campaign made it look as though you used less without the bill going up - until you realised what was happening -but then it was too late.
The Gas and Water suppliers soon caught on to this wheeze too.
Imagine if a supermarket still charged you a fiver to shop even if you just bought a loaf of bread!
Lawrie
davep
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Post by davep »

Lawrie wrote:Imagine if a supermarket still charged you a fiver to shop even if you just bought a loaf of bread!
Like some actually do if you have it delivered?
Mike Feist
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Post by Mike Feist »

When those street lights went out at midnight in the early 1960s you could almost hear the thud of the falling darkness.
Mike
AJ
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Post by AJ »

After reading your comments Guy's I just had to add mine. Many years ago (showing my age now :roll: ) I remember pitch black skys and every star visible to the unaided eye. (Ah! Those War Time 1940s) That's when my interest in Astronomy really took off. Boy! trying to find books on the subject...that was an art in it's self. Dark skys in Shropshire were wonderful in a little place called "Western Lullingfields" where I was evacuated (Told you I was showing my age LOL)

The only other time I encountered really dark skys was on a visit to friends of ours many years later with my "Mem Sahib" to a place called Norly in Cheshire. Wow!! I could actually see the Milky Way.

Now...."Crapola" Lucky if I can find Ursa Major on a reasonably good night.

AJ

Oh! just remembered one other time when I was in Malaya keeping my head down.
Mitch
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Post by Mitch »

I'm lucky, I can see Ursa Major but I'll be ... if I can see Ursa Minor from my back yard!

But good old dependable Orion gives a nice show this time of year!

cheers
Mitch
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Mitch
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Post by Mitch »

I've just emailed the BBC asking to discuss this with a journalist, I'm not holding my breath but I'll keep you all informed of any progress :?

cheers
Mitch
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Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Mitch
Best of luck with your discussions with the BBC.
I hope that you get a response from the BEEB, but I will be surprised if they are helpfull. I think the BBC feel they are on a higher plane than us ordinary folk. A couple of years back I sent the BBC TV an e-mail asking them some questions with respect to a news item about lighting. They responded with a standard reply saying something to the effect that my e-mail had been received and my comments noted, but they never made any attempt to answer any of my questions.
The lighting fraternity is very powerful and infuential.
I cannot say for sure but it has occurred to me that BBC TV and theatres of course make a lot of use of lighting in various ways. These "industries" probably employ quite a lot of lighting engineers, but I do not think they employ many "light pollution engineers".
The general public think that more and more lighting helps reduce crime and improves security. On top of that the government and general public apparently want a so-called 24 hour society life style.
Hopefully the new light pollution legislation which I believe is due to come into force in 2006 will be a good thing, but I have a great fear that it will get over-whelmed by general public lack of interest. There might be a danger that light pollution legislation will not be properly used and be unaffective, in the same way that no one now seems to bother to prosecute drivers using hand-held mobile phones in moving motor vehicles (at least not from the number of people I see using mobile phones when driving).
Best of luck from the Grumpy Old Codger Cliff
Mitch
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Post by Mitch »

I think you're right about getting a response, but I thought I'd try.

Aside from the light pollution I've had 7 consectutive nights of overcast skies, can't even see where the full moon is :(
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Robin Scagell
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Post by Robin Scagell »

The streetlight right outside my house used to go off at about 12.30 am GMT. I once saw a chap servicing it, and he told me that the switches that turn them off at that time cost no more than those that kep them on all night, so yah sucks boo to the councils that tell us it is not possible or costs too much. Then last week I noticed it was on all night, and had been changed from low-pressure sodium to high-pressure sodium.

I sent a sharply worded email to the council saying that as an amateur astronomer it had reduced my quality of life, that I didn't want the side of my house illuminated at all hours so that burglars could see their way into the garden, and what a waste of electricity it was when the council's own website are imploring us to turn our thermostats down. HPS costs more to run than LPS, I think.

I got no reply, but I am glad to say that the lamp now goes off at midnight again. Well worth everyone else asking their own councils -- if you don't ask, you don't get.

I was once told that the reason councils can keep them on all night is that it cost them (at that time, about 20 years ago) only £2 a year extra per light to do so, and it provides a base load for the nuclear power stations which you can't just turn on and off. Now that we have fewer of those, maybe the cost will be more important.

Robin
Lawrie
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Post by Lawrie »

It certainly does pay to complain, particularly as there is now new legislation concerning nuisance.
What will make a letter of complaint even more effective is to mark it prominently with "COPY TO" and send a copy to the local newspaper.
Newspaper editors love to have a go at their local authorities and the said Authorities hate to have embarrassing correspondence aired publicly.
In the immortal words of Corporal Jones "They don't like it up 'em Sir, they don't like it up 'em!"
Lawrie
Mitch
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Post by Mitch »

When we talk of light pollution do we include smog in the equation? My horizon is restricted to at least 10 degrees above the actual, due to "pollution", but I note that this is usually the case in daylight also. I particularly noticed this tonight when trying to view M41 (south of Sirius) at around 22.30.

I was fortunate enough to visit Montreal in September of this year and took some photos of the downtown area from the tower of the [1976] Olympic stadium. From only a few miles away the picture quality was severely affected by smog.

Mitch
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A
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Post by A »

Hi Mitch

If you can get hold of a copy of ' amateur astronomer's
handboook' by J.B.Sidgwick, some libraries still carry it.
Then there is a very good chapter seeing conditions, including
smog and suspended matter in the atmosphere.
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