Society for Popular Astronomy

Road Lighting Could be dimmed.
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Author:  David Frydman [ Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Ceefax p 121 now.
Lights on thousands of miles of major roads in England could be dimmed during quiet periods in a bid to save money and reduce carbon emmisions.

Unfortunately research not to begin till 2012/13, so not now.

Regards, David

Author:  dazcaz [ Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:13 pm ]
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How do they intend to dim the lighting.
You cannot dim the typical road light. It's either on or off.

Maybe by dim, they mean turn some off.

Personally, I don't see the point of 90% of street/road lighting.

They also want to curb the office blocks that keep the lights on all night, and the external lighting and signs.

Road lighting plays quite a small part in the story of light pollution.

Author:  Cliff [ Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:39 pm ]
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Dear David and dazcaz
Despite any need and desirability to not waste energy I don't think reducing street lighting is a very popular idea with the majority of the UK populace. Bright street lighting is seen as being essential with respect to road safety and security.
Unfortunately for UK astronomers I just heard some potententially bad news recently.
Though not confirmed properly yet, an amateur astronomer friend of mine living in a nearby city told me that he recently drove a friend home in another area he hadn't visited for a while and saw some unusually bright "white" street lighting. He isn't absolutely sure but thinks the new street lighting is produced using banks of LEDs.
Best wishes from Cliff

Author:  David Frydman [ Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:27 am ]
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Dear Cliff,
This is what Brian warned of, saying I think they cannot be filtered.
Regards, David

Author:  etoille [ Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Apparently there are quite a few places where they have been installed now. Apparently not so bad if you are a distance away from them as apparently there is not so much background glow, but unfortunate if your house is right next to one. Only time will tell whether they actually reduce background glow en masse from cities or increase it. There's not enough of them out there yet to determine that yet. Unfortunately as some have said, in all probability this white rather then orange glow will be all but impossible to filter. The driver though is cost cutting as they save considerably on running costs and most people seem to favor the clean bright light. Watch this space!

Author:  Cliff [ Thu Aug 16, 2012 7:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Dear David, Etoille et al
From what I gather LEDs are someting akin to the "holy grail" with regards street lighting.
I think Etoille is quite right in mentioning costcutting being the driver.
I've been told LEDs are likely both cheaper with regards both energy (electricity) use and maintenance.
I don't know for sure but probably the only thing likely to slow LED use down is the initial cost of installation.
Assuming LED street lighting is as good as might be local authorities and the general public are likely to want LED street lights to be installed as soon as possible.
Best of luck from Cliff

Author:  rusirius [ Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

The local paper carried an article the other day informing us that the city council will be installing 'low energey street lights' here in Leicester. Although it did not mention that they will be LED, it did say they will be white.

I have already noticed that a particular stretch of country road (I live outside of the city) that I travel on daily and where new lights have recently been installed, that these new lights are white. The head appears to contain several lights clustered so I am assuming that these are the new LED lights and that therefore the County council is doing the same.

Interestingly, there is another benefit quoted: it will lead to clearer CCD footage! ... story.html

What is scary is the cost of this scheme to replace 33,000 lights: 14 million over some 4 years! It is said to reduce the lighting bill by £1 million. If that's per year, then it will take 14 years to pay for itself!

Author:  David Frydman [ Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Why don't they go the whole way and put some mirrors in space pointing at Leicester so that it will be like daylight 24 hours a day?
It is not as if these mirrors have not been suggested before.

Who needs sleep?

Regards, David

Author:  Guy Fennimore [ Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

White LED street lights may well look very bright if you stand (or drive) under them and look up, but the big advantage is that it's possible to direct the beam of light very precisely at the road and footpath. In this way they are both economical in energy usage, and lessen sideways and upwards light pollution dramatically. I have been to a small village where the classical sodium lights (all three of them!) were replaced with directional white LEDs, and the difference in the sky seen from the centre of the village is amazing - it's now possible to see the Milky Way with the unaided eye without having to hide from the lights. The directional effect is particularly well demonstrated when there is a slight mist and the beams are obvious. To me it seems the way forward...

Author:  Cliff [ Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Dear Guy
I've just noticed your interesting post (27th August) about new street lights (probably LEDs).
My knowledge of street lighting is quite dated so nothing I say is in any way definitive.
However, some years back I was one of two amateur astronomers who attended a meeting organised by regional branch of the Intitution of Lighting Engineers discussing light pollution. from what i gathered most of the lighting engineers attending the meeting were only mildly interested in reducing light pollution. I had then been retired from my job in highway engineering about 10 years andalthough I am sure lighting engineers now know that light pollution is unpopular with astronomers I am not sure they really take the matter much more seriously.
I accept what you say that the new LED lighing can be better controlled\directed downwards etc. However, I recall many years ago I expressed concerns about street lighting light pollution and advocated using more full cut off lights. I was informed that one local council had installed full cut of SL in one residential district. Local residents didn't like the lights because although the roads and footways were well lit their gardens driveways and front doors were dark and so the "newfull cutoff lights" were replaced !
I feel sure that if the new LED's (or whatever) provide beter illumination (apparently generally meaning brighter because arguably that's what the populace want (?) they'll be used. I can see the "well directed" lighting being used by Highway Authorities on rural motorways and the likes. However, when it comes to general urban lighting I have concerns about what will happen ??????
Best wishes from Cliff

Author:  David Frydman [ Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Dear Cliff,
In my opinion the only way light pollution will be drastically reduced is when we are so poor and energy so expensive that we simply will refuse or be unable to pay for lighting.
The maximum efficiency of lighting might creep up to nearly 100% with no energy lost as heat.

The only short time hope is that dark parks will be created and at least some dark sky preserved.
but for urban areas not much hope until cost is the major factor.

In rural areas it may be that street lights will go off from midnight to 6 a.m. So astronomers may benefit here.

The urban scene already looks like the situation in the film Blade Runner.

Basically in towns night is the same as day, with wildlife affected.

It is about 15 years since I last saw the Milky Way. My eyes are obviously not as good as they were but the main cause is local authority and private excessive lighting.
And fear of crime with people hoping that making night into day will make them safer.

We can only but hope for power cuts or perhaps strikes to get a few dark nights.

Regards, David

Author:  Cliff [ Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Dear DavidF
I think we are very much in agreement about this.
Since I have now given up night sky observing - I sometimes adopt the attitude "I couldn't care less !"
I tend to think "astronomers" are getting what they deserve. Most just moan but never try to do anything about it. Arguably the CfDS do a good job - although I sometimes think not aggressively enough - but to be fair the CfDS are hampered because astronomers do not back the CfDS strongly enough. Of course astronomy is a "minority sport" so astronomers\CfDS are not in a very strong position.
There are a few things that bug me though :-
1) Does giving lighting awards to people\organisations who only do what they should do anyway - do any good.
2) I sometimes wonder if UK astronomers had been more aggressive attacking light pollution then more would have been done (?). Of course professional astronomers use telescopes located abroad and are understandably more interested in getting funding than seriously rocking the boat about UK light pollution !?!
About the Institution of Street Lighting Engineers meeting I attended some years ago - I was actually only standing in for a CfDS offier who couldn't go himself.
In discussion time I raised several points eg one being -
My wife had complained to our local authority about new street lighting glaring into our bedroom as a result of which the LA put baffles in the offending street light which pleased her. I was then jeered by a significant number of the 40+ lighting engineers present -SHE Knew about my concerns about street lighting but I had nothing to do with her complaining she was annoyed\upset about the glaring street light.
I mentioned my concerns about High Pressure sodium street light and the possibility of using full cut of Low pressure sodium - one of the lighting engineers said he often took his young daughter out for local evening walks but only since HPS street lights had been installed - if Low Pressure Sodium lights were in use he would never take her out walking at night.
My conclusions at the end of the meeting were that although the ILE were mildly sympathetic to UK astronomers with regards light pollution the ILE didn't think it was of any real importance.
Best wishes from Cliff
PS I edited adding the letter words and word in CAPITALS hoping it makes more sense.
Please bare in mind the ILE mentioned above took place several years back (maybe 10 years ago?).
Arguably the very fact the ILE actually organsed a meeting about Light Pollution is itself an indication of them having some genuine interest in the problems (?).

Author:  Cliff [ Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Dear al(L)
Something I forgot to mention previously.
With regards dimming streetlighting. As someone might have previously suggested - dimming existing older streetlighting such as eg Low Pressure Sodium or High Pressure Sodium might be difficult. However, I cann't help thinking that from highway authorities point of view new LED lighting might be good financially and might be more easily dimmed as well.
Best wishes from Cliff

Author:  David Frydman [ Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Dear Cliff.
The CfDS has recently given an award to an LED lit large complex , which is a vast improvement to the previous awful lights.
So maybe LED lighting can be friendly.

Regards, David

Author:  Cliff [ Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Road Lighting Could be dimmed.

Dear David et al
I only just noticed your 19th Sept comments about LEDs.
Like Nobel Prizes I really don't know much about CfDS awards - but I to be against both of them. Perhaps I am just jealous because I'm not likely to get either. Although miracles do happen - I've been told !
Whatever, re LED street-lighting I stil haven't seen any yet.
To be honest since I packed up night sky observing I don't feel too bothered what happens about night time light pollution - taking a selfish attitude.
The only thing I know (at least was told by my astronomer friend who first told me he had seen some LED street-lighting in operation) apparently the LED lighting was extremely bright. If that is the case I suppose if it can be very directed easily to where its needed (supposedly!) that might make LEDs a Win for everybody.
However, I have my nasty suspicions that even with the best -or worst- intentions LEDs might get improperly used.
I know its old hat but i'll give my classic example of some - many now- years back a local authority provided full cut off street lights in a residential area ( properly directed onto the street) and residents supposedly complained because although they liked the new bright lights they were unhappy because there house drives\front gardens were dim and they couldn't see to put keys in front door locks. Of course if true the problem was likely the residents waking from excessively lit street (GLARE) to dim their supposed dim gardens.
This might be a problem with LEDs if they are as bright as I was told - the result might be people "demmanding" even more lights to reduce the extreme contrast problem.
I suppose one saving grace might be the cost of energy - but of course one supposed beauty of LEDs is they use less electricity, last longer, cheaper to maintain (?)
Best wishes from Cliff

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