Light Pollution - A little Good News

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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Lawrie
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Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:06 pm
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Light Pollution - A little Good News

Post by Lawrie »

After nearly 20 years, the local council has finally got around (i.e. been pushed or shamed) into changing our street lights.
This an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ( as said Authority often reminds us) yet we still had
the 60 ft. high street lights installed when the main road passed through the High Street. The village was
by-passed about 20 years ago but the lights remained. I and others complained continually that the lights were more appropriate to a Californian
Freeway than our tiny Cotswold village and that street lights ought to illuminate the street and not fill the bedrooms of the unfortunates
living along the High Street with the thick sulphurous yellow light.
Finally it seems that our protest about them has had results. Last week a van showed up and the man set up new light poles of half the height.
Then another van came a few days later and the chap installed the light fittings. So far so good, We are now awaiting the man who will connect
up the lights, Then an inspector will come to see that they are properly installed ( as per the "Help and Safety Police" regulations).
No doubt we shall then have to wait for another gang to come and remove the old ones. Eventually the new ones will be
turned on. These things must not be rushed of course and nothing must give the impression that the job is done quickly and
efficiently. That is not the way of local authority work practices. But at last (at least) things are happening. It now remains to see how long
it will be before the new lights are on (some time this year, I hope) Patience and Persistance Pays.
Lawrie
Cliff
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Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 8:18 pm
Location: Manchester
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Lawrie
Dare I admit it . I used to work for a local authority but i have been retired more than ten years now. I was a highway engineer and had many differences with the street lighting lads. I could tell you many funny and not sp funny tales. Such as one about a horse rider who got too close to a street light which had not been earthed proerly and his horse dropped dead.
However, I hope that the newly installed street lights in your Cotswold village prove satisfactory. Generally speaking whaen local councils install new street lighting it is brighter and uses more electricity than before. Of course it is supposedly better directed downwards - but mnot always and even when it is some light is inevitably reflected up off the ground which causes light pollution of course. When one thinks that the Moon and Mars have albedos of about 0.15 ish then it makes you realise, how much light is reflected back up from the Earth.
Where I worked the lighting engineers decided to replace some old supposedly "ugly" lighting with new. The new steel lighting columns were custom designed by the lighting engineer. Fancy tripple metal columns with triple luminaires. (incidentally at that time most if not all UK steel lighting columns were made in France) I presume that is still the same.
The council could have bought acceptable standard columns for a third of the price they paid for the custom designed lighting engineers ones. He claimed that the the old columns were disgracefully ugly and needed replacing with a suitable design. Personally i thought the Street lighting engineers design was absolute c--P., but I could be prejudiced. However, the new lighting colmns were eventually put up and (as I thought looked
c--p). But even worse on one quite long stretch of road there was a canopy extending over the footway to sheter pedestrians. One of the lights on each triple headed column shone down directly on top of the canopy providing absoluetly no useful light whatsoever. They later had to provide more lights under the canopy to light up the footway. On top of that (you having queried when your new street lights will be lit up) it was more than eighteen months after the new triple headed columns were erected before the new lights were connected up by the electricity board.
So for that period the local people had the benefit of new lighting that was non operational on excessively expensive columns together with (immediately alongside supposedly ugly columns still needed to provied the lighting. Even after the with the new lights were lit it was a few months before the old columns got taken down.
However, I think that particular lighting engineers "piece de resistance" was again when he ventured into his forte of designing fancy columns. this particular one being for a small square in a new housing
development. He designed a single central column opening up into 17 No separate curving outwards steel tube columns, each one of different length, some curved over the top, and each column with a powerful lighting luminaire. Apparently the lighting engineer followed his usual practice fitting an on\off sensor with each of the 17 lamps.
Apparently when they first came into use as it went dark a sensor swithed one of the 17 lights on, but then when other lights switched on they triggered other lights off so the new square light were going on and off in chaotic fashion better than any christmas tree fairy lights. The street lighting engineer then realised that rather than having 17 sensors one would have done the job he wanted.
Sorry to have wittered on, as you probably guessed i am a bit prejudiced about street lighting matters. And of course we all make mistakes.
I hope the new lighting in your village is OK.
Best wishes from the smiling Grumpy Old Codger Cliff
Lawrie
Posts: 264
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:06 pm
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Good New etc.

Post by Lawrie »

Hello Cliff,
Thanks for your comments. I laughed at that story of the "christmas lights". I could quite imagine that.
Well am still waiting for the big "turn-on" but not expecting minor miracles but will let you know when the "big event" occurs (if I am still around!)
Regards, Lawrie
Lawrie
Posts: 264
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:06 pm
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Post by Lawrie »

Hello Cliff, Well it has happened! A gang from the local authority showed up today and has wired up the new lights. Most of them even work! They are on for the first time tonight and my light polution has gone. I just wish that I had another clear night to appreciate it. (it is raining!)
Best wishes, Lawrie
Cliff
Posts: 6594
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 8:18 pm
Location: Manchester
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Lawrie
I am pleased that your lighting problems may have been reduced, and keep my fingers crossed for you. I personally should not knock council workers too much because I was one myself for the best part of 40 years. I am sure I was guilty of making plenty mistakes myself and can make no great claims about my own wonderful efficiency, so I should not pick on the lighting lads too much. Some lighting engineers are sympathetic with respect to amateur astronomers but I think far too many are not. I am afraid in general their attitude is the more light the better.
Best wishes from the Grumpy old Codger Cliff
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