Whats the problem?!

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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Vega
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Post by Vega »

Yes, totally agree Scott.. mis-enterpreted. Plenty to be seen in LP.. come to think of it, the most awesome views in a scope (Moon/Saturn etc) can all be seen in heavy LP without problems. And if you want good DSO views, get out of the towns/cities and breathe in some Country air rather than gassing about LP.

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Sketchie Kernow
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Re: Whats the problem?!

Post by Sketchie Kernow »

scottwilson1984 wrote:Hi,

I don't get what the 'huge' problem is and why everyone is ALWAYS complaining about light pollution. Its not THAT bad for heavens sake. I live in a huge development area with an indoor Ski Slope and shopping outlet and yes, the sky isn't the best sometimes, but its not bad ALL the time and even at the worst of times its not THAT bad... and I can still see the sky tremendously clearly a lot of the nights. I just wish people would stop blowing this whole light pollution thing right out of proportion.

What do other people think? Anyone Disagree? Agree? Id like to hear some (non abusive) comments back :D

I have more of a problem with cloud pollution than anything else! LOL.


Scott 8)
I live in SE Cornwall and if you look east toward Devon all you can see is the Ever expanding orange glow of Plymouth ... It is very distracting and as i'm into astrophotography frankly its a pain inthe a***. I have no problems for lighting for safety issues but as lighting also takes up energy that we are supposed to be cutting back on the usage of you would at least someone/people would stop and think about what we are actually doing to this planet of ours..... end of rant. :)
In the time it takes to read this sentence, the universe will increase in volume by 100 trillion cubic light-years.... better get a BIGGER 'scope then!!!

barf
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Post by barf »

yes, i see what you mean now. I have three times the trouble with powerstations - i have eggborough to my immediate south, Drax to my east and ferrybridge on the western horizon! They dont stop me observing, but can make some low level obs tricky.

Yes, make the best of what you have, even if there is some light pollution, and try and fix what you can influence. I have double the trouble from manmade sources, because as an astronomer and radio ham, i have to put up with interference right across the electromagnetic spectrum from light down to medium waves! right now something local to me is wiping out one of my favourite bands, and just like the light polution, my filters cant quite fix it!

Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Scott
I do put up with light pollution and observe as best I can between bouts of moaning about light pollution.
My moaning is more for the benefit of youngsters who might be inclined to take up astronomy as a hobby, if they could see the stars.
A few years ago I was told by a local town planning officer that I should not expect to do astronomy from the urban location where I live.
I can claim that light pollution has not stopped me observing but light pollution seems to gradually be getting that bit worse.
Since you are not bothered about light pollution, I cannot help being curious as to how much astronomical observing you do?
Best of luck from Cliff

Sketchie Kernow
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Post by Sketchie Kernow »

Eclipse wrote:I have a street light that shines right onto my property - I am sore tempted to get the air rifle out!!!
Have a look at this and then speak nicely to the local council reminding them of their legal obligations :)

Here is part of an article taken from "Astronomy Now" magazine dated September 2007, concerning light pollution. I thought it might be a good read for those who are plagued by this Obnoxious Habit.



Earlier this year a petition was set up on the Government's petitions website asking The Prime Minister to "ensure that all exterior lights are shaded to direct their light downwards, so as to prevent light pollution obscuring the beauty of the night sky". That petition was submitted by Richard Johnson and signed by 3,379 people. This was the response from the Prime Minister's office:

"The Government recognises the fact that outdoor lighting has increased significantly over the past 30 years and we are working to tackle the problem through better planning, energy-efficiency, improved street lighting and more effective local authority enforcement."

"The night sky over England is more brightly lit than any other European country, with the exception only of the Netherlands. This is certainly reducing our ability to view and enjoy it the night sky, and this has implications for astronomers, stargazers, and wildlife alike. The wasted energy from unnecessary lighting is also contributing to dangerous climate change."

"In 2003, a Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology held an inquiry into light pollution and astronomy to consider the effectiveness of measures taken to reduce the impact of light pollution on astronomy. A number of sources of light pollution where considered, including street lighting, domestic and industrial security lighting, and the floodlighting of sports facilities and buildings."

"A number of recommendations were made, including better use of the planning process and the extension of the statutory nuisance regime to include light. The Government, broadly welcoming the committee's recommendations, are working to reduce the amount of light pollution from premises and street lighting and have given local authorities stronger powers to take action against artificial lighting of premises and unwanted glares from security lighting.

The adverse effect of some external lighting is well known and a Transport White Paper, published in 1998, stated that "where lighting is essential, it should be designed in such a way that nuisance is reduced and the effect on the night sky in the countryside minimised". In the past, much street lighting has been provided by low-pressure sodium lighting units, and this often leads to an orange sky glow. Newer technologies, and in particular high-pressure sodium lighting units, allow much finer control of the light distribution and a reduction in the amount of light directed towards the sky.

As a response to this White Paper, highway authorities are now encouraged to consider using high-pressure, or other light sources allowing more precise light control, when installing new lighting or Updating older lighting schemes. The Government also announced £600 million Private Initiative Credits in November 2005 for street lighting schemes to help the renewal of street lighting to help bring it in line with modern standards. Better, more effective lighting should not only reduce light pollution, it can also help to reduce crime and road accidents.

The Government has also given local authorities stronger powers to tackle light pollution under the clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. The Act extended this statutory nuisance regime and enables authorities to issue abatement notices, and individuals to take private action through the Magistrate's Court. Fines, apon conviction, for non-compliance with an abatement notice can range up to £5000 for domestic premises, with up to £20,000 for Industrial/Trade/Business Premises.

Since 1997, lighting has been considered as part of the planning process for new buildings, and this applies to residential as well as commercial premises. The Government is currently developing good practice guidance on use of artificial lighting upon premises. We have also provided guidance to local authorities, highway engineers and members of the public on ways to lessen the adverse effects of external lighting. This guidance, Lighting in the Countryside: Towards good practice, as well as other information on light pollution, is available via the Department For Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website (http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/loc ... /index.htm)."

hope you find it useful.
In the time it takes to read this sentence, the universe will increase in volume by 100 trillion cubic light-years.... better get a BIGGER 'scope then!!!

Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Sketchy Kernow
I accept what you told us, but in practice I think there are still some big problems. Amongst other things there are some total exclusions from the recommendations eg Transport Depots.
My wife complained about a street light shining into our bedroom (after streetlighting improvements a few years back). To be fair the local authority did take action by blanking off a sector of the street light lantern. I did provide asome benefit - nothing to do with astronomy.
An amateur astronomy friend (in another location) complained about a street light shing directly into his garden. The local authority sent out workmen who adjusted a street light lantern (I think when my friend was at work) apparently after the adjustment my friends intrusive lighting problem was even worse than before. My friend complained again. The local authority street lighting engineer refused to take any further action.
However, I understand sometime later something was done by unknowns to rectify the problem, perhaps best not to go into details.
Best of luck from Cliff

Sketchie Kernow
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Post by Sketchie Kernow »

Cliff wrote:Dear Sketchy Kernow
I accept what you told us, but in practice I think there are still some big problems. Amongst other things there are some total exclusions from the recommendations eg Transport Depots.
My wife complained about a street light shining into our bedroom (after streetlighting improvements a few years back). To be fair the local authority did take action by blanking off a sector of the street light lantern. I did provide asome benefit - nothing to do with astronomy.
An amateur astronomy friend (in another location) complained about a street light shing directly into his garden. The local authority sent out workmen who adjusted a street light lantern (I think when my friend was at work) apparently after the adjustment my friends intrusive lighting problem was even worse than before. My friend complained again. The local authority street lighting engineer refused to take any further action.
However, I understand sometime later something was done by unknowns to rectify the problem, perhaps best not to go into details.
Best of luck from Cliff
hi Cliff,
Of course there are always exceptons to the regulations, and also other ways to circumvent the situation, legally or illegally, I just thought i'd post that bit of information as a possible way of helping one of our colleagues in a bit of a pickle..
Your points are very valid and your experience is probably similar to many others who have sufered similar light pollution/nuisance... maybe one day the powers that be might listen to the little man and do what they are payed for. Serve the public. :)

regards
sean
In the time it takes to read this sentence, the universe will increase in volume by 100 trillion cubic light-years.... better get a BIGGER 'scope then!!!

Eclipse
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Post by Eclipse »

Cliff wrote: However, I understand sometime later something was done by unknowns to rectify the problem
Surely not!!! LOL
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Surfinginsanity
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Post by Surfinginsanity »

I'm from South West Cornwall, and while falmouth is suffers from pollution it isn't to bad, especially on a dry clear summer evening. Winter evenings can be bad due to the constant night time mists. They are only thin but it is enough to reflect a good amount of light. However it is not hard to find a good dark sky spot. I like to head out to somewhere on the lizard peninsula. Nice and dark.

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When I was a lad...

Post by rusirius »

When I was a lad in my teens, I could clearly see the milky way from my dad's city home back garden on a clear night. I could clearly see the little plow (yes the little plow not the big plow) and around 11 stars in the Pleiades (7 sisters). Of course now at 48 I recognize that my eyesight has changed - but still remains very good. However I cannot see more than half a dozen or so of the brightest stars from the same city street. I can however just see the little plow from my country village home some 10 miles away, despite our 'village' being fairly large with several hundred homes.

When I recently went down the south coast, on one clear moonless night my wife and I got out of the car on a dark coastal road. I found it difficult to make out any constellations including the little plow not because of light pollution, but because of the sheer volume - there must have been billions - of stars that lit up the night sky. The view was so spectacular - in fact awe inspiring. I have never seen anything like it. Its a view that I never imagined possible with the unaided eye and one I will never forget.

Sadly, an experience like this brings home the reality that light pollution robs the majority of us of such a spectacular view of the night sky and limits our ability to observe and enjoy the wonders of the universe.

The postitive side is that even from my rural home with scattered streetlight affecting the view of the night sky, I have been able to experience observing quite a number of objects of interest with my 8in SCT scope so I consider myself fortunate. However, those living in large cities are not so fortunate and will find it a struggle to experience anything more than just a few of the brightest objects.

I am gven to understand that on the Uk mainland it appears to be difficult to find a truly dark skies like the ones I experienced along the south coastal road that day and its a shame that due to the modern day phenomenon of light pollution, many will never experience such a truly awe inspiring view of the night sky.

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Post by Dave »

My main problem is not light pollution but pond pollution...my neighbour has a very..very..very large fully heated all the year round koi pond, during the winter months i love to go out to the observatory and set my scope up, take the roof off..then find a giant cloud of steam rising high into the sky completely obliterating every view, its even seeped into the obsy a few times....i would love some light pollution instead of this bloomin cloud of steam that is pretty much like the film the Fog...without the nasty blokes in it.

Back to light pollution, well its a pain, it seems that some councils listen, others dont and it makes me wonder if we will ever get the message over..probably not but still its worth bringing the subject up with them.
My council wrote a nice letter back to me basically telling me that for my safety and security they were installing even more lights up my road...thanks for that then :shock:

Dave
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Deimos
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Post by Deimos »

Talking to the council elected reps can help and can change policy. Where I used to live (in the UK) the Parish Council were dead set on getting street lighting installed (previously there was none). I hated the idea and started discussing the negative effects with members of the Parish Council. I did not use my interest in Astronomy as an argument. Everybody has interests and to be honest I felt that in relation the the (incorrect) argument about people's safety at night, my "wanting to see more stars" would not carry much weight. anyway, after discussing it with a few council members the plan was dropped. No campaigning, no argumentative tones. Maybe I was lucky in that the individuals were receptive to this particular issue (because they were quite unreasonable on other issues !!).

Of course I want dark skies but think that the environmental justifications are something real and important that will carry more weight that a minority "wanting to see more stars" (important to us but not the population).

I now live in France and many villages turn the street lights off at midnight (quite a surprise when you are driving through a village a midnight and the lights all go out). Contrary to what British papers seem to think, when the lights go off, the burglars, muggers, rapists, etc. do not all come out to commit crimes.

Given the climate change issues, energy cost issues, etc. I think the amount of street lighting is going to reduce. I think that in the UK people regard "public money" (i.e. the money that government and councils spend) as being a "gift from God" - and they do not appreciate that it is actually their money. If they (or their representatives in government/councils) spend more, they will have to meet that additional amount from their own pockets. Whilst people are starting to use low energy light bulbs and switch of appliances when not required, etc. their elected representatives are leaving loads of bright lights on all night - all at their expense. Maybe once people realise that they are paying for the waste they will start to accept reductions more readily.

Ian

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Post by joe »

Deimos wrote: Contrary to what British papers seem to think, when the lights go off, the burglars, muggers, rapists, etc. do not all come out to commit crimes.
This is overwhelmingly the biggest barrier to convincing people that turning lights out is not a problem - i.e. darkness does not mean danger. Does anyone have any knowledge of authoritive statistics or reports that support this view? It can be difficult using this argument when both sides are using anecdotal evidence and popular (mis)conceptions.
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Post by mapofthedead »

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/prgpdfs/fcpu28.pdf

Might be worth a read, its a PDF so might take a while to show.

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/hors251.pdf

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Post by joe »

Thanks for the links, I'll have a look at them in more detail when I've got some time.
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