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Help Map Global Light Pollution, By Starlight

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the can-you-see-below-the-belt? dept.

Earth 148

Kilrah_il writes "Light pollution is a big problem these days, affecting not only astronomers and wild life, but also everyone else because of wasted energy. GLOBE at Night aims to raise awareness by urging people to go outside and find out how much light pollution there is in their area. 'The campaign is easy and fun to do. First, you match the appearance of the constellation Orion in the first campaign (and Leo or Crux in the second campaign) with simple star maps of progressively fainter stars found. Then you submit your measurements, including the date, time, and location of your comparison. After all the campaign's observations are submitted, the project's organizers release a map of light-pollution levels worldwide.'"

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Who cares about light pollution? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582320)

Isn't most important astronomy these days done by space-based telescopes?

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582416)

All astronomy is done with ONE optical telescope? There are more than a few astronomers.

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583346)

I think there's at least 2.

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582736)

Isn't most important astronomy these days done by space-based telescopes?

I'm not exactly an astronomer, more of an enthusiast, but I'd love to be able to buy a good telescope and use it to see brilliant galaxy and nebula images. I can't see shit in the sky around here in Northeast Ohio--and I about shat myself when I saw this image, taken with just a plain camera, with no fucking telescope:

http://interfacelift.com/wallpaper/details/2376/the_milky_way_galaxy.html [interfacelift.com]

It really pisses me off that I can't see this kind of clarity, far past Earth's atmosphere and into outer space. I'm lucky that I can see the very "brightest" stars in the sky and maybe a few of the bigger and brighter planets, like Jupiter and Saturn. It fucking sucks. I always thought it was "just that way" until I learned more about light pollution, and some of the from-ground images I've seen on the Internet (including the above) really made me aware of what I've been missing since... well, since I first time I ever looked at the sky.

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (2)

herojig (1625143) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583454)

What u say is so true, and I think as light pollution increases, it may have profound consequences re: how well future generations of folks understand the universe. For example, my wife who has lived in cities all her life, had no idea there were so many stars in the night sky until we camped at Everest Base Camp a few years back. For many people, reading about the universe in science text books back in high school is no substitute for actually seeing the reality of the matter, as expressed by my star of a wife. Cheers!

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584598)

Completely agree. I still remember one night on a long walk in the countryside, with zero moonlight, and miles to even the nearest little streetlit village, the number of stars you can actually see with the naked eye is truly incredible (to a town/city dweller).

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584580)

Bear in mind that that's a 30 second exposure, the guy even says "I wish we could see the Milky Way that way with our bare eyes". Viewing the sky without light pollution is indeed a beautiful thing, but I don't think a 30 second exposure at F2.8 is exactly analogous to normal eyesight! I'd love if someone who lives in an area with absolutely zero light pollution could tell us different though.

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584906)

NE OH? Here in Toledo if we didn't have the light pollution the smoke from the refineries would probably cause the same effect anyway unfortunately. I agree though, I wish there was a sky to show my daughter in her young, impressionable days.

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (1)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584252)

The crooks are really concerned. The victims of their deeds may see them coming and take protective measures if the light levels remain high.

Re:Who cares about light pollution? (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584402)

I care, i'd like to see some stars when i look up

I'll help (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582330)

I'm going to go out at night with a big flashlight and find those gosh darn light polluters.

Re:I'll help (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582410)

My mum's basement doesn't have a window you insensitive clod.

Re:I'll help (1)

doti (966971) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584184)

I'm going to go out at night with a big flashlight and find those gosh darn stars.

What are these "stars" of which you speak? (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582394)

I live in Phoenix, thank you, and 20 miles from the middle of town on the opposite side of a mountain range I can see my way around the house at night without lights -- and with the blinds closed.

Re:What are these "stars" of which you speak? (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582624)

Drive another 20 miles away from the city and you will see more stars than 90+% of the first world's population has seen in their life. One of the most amazing things I have experienced in my life is stargazing in the desert southwest.

Re:What are these "stars" of which you speak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583176)

Interesting. I just moved to the Phoenix area a few months ago (the far western end) - I used to live in northern Virginia (near DC), and it's pretty dark in comparison - in VA, I could read a book in the dark with all the lights off and the blinds closed.

Re:What are these "stars" of which you speak? (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583744)

Interesting. I just moved to the Phoenix area a few months ago (the far western end) - I used to live in northern Virginia (near DC), and it's pretty dark in comparison - in VA, I could read a book in the dark with all the lights off and the blinds closed.

Hey, both of you Phoenicians... hit me up, I don't know
any valley geeks, and it's lonely in this basement, lol.

alienjuggernaut a t gmail d o t c o m

Far west end, Goodyear/Buckeye border. Pitch black
here, except for the Phoenix glow to the east. Doesn't
extend much more than 20 deg above horiz. Consistently
have mag 12 lim in an 8" SC.

-AI

Re:What are these "stars" of which you speak? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584648)

Pah. That's nothing. In my house, when I turn all the lights off, close the blinds, tape around the edges, close all the doors and sit in the inner hallway, I can read a book with my eyes closed. Beat that.

Re:What are these "stars" of which you speak? (1)

Israfels (730298) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584248)

I can do the same. But it's probably because all my electronic devices have LEDs telling me that they're _almost_ off.

stars? what stars? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582404)

Seriously, the light pollution around DFW is so bad I can't see much more than Orion and the Big Dipper. During last night's super moon, the faintest star of the Big Dipper was hard to see. Couldn't make out the Little Dipper at all.

Re:stars? what stars? (1)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582516)

Stars are typically hard to see during a full moon, let alone the super moon which was 30% brighter.

Has very little effect on stars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35584332)

Has very little effect on stars. Because they're points, they are very bright. the moon is an extended object and, at full, is probably as *intense* as a star of 10th magnitude.

Where it will cause more problems is that your eye won't open as wide, but that only knocks a couple of magnitudes off.

Now, if there is crap in the air, finding the bit that is a star and not the skyglow, that's more difficult.

TBH, it's more the crap in the air (that you always get) that makes light pollution so bad.

Re:stars? what stars? (1)

Gunnut1124 (961311) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582968)

Um, not only was it a full moon, but it was hazy outside. I'm in DFW too and have quite a few ruined full-moon pics to demonstrate the haze...

Huh? (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582408)

Last time I was at our local (ish) observatory, they had a light pollution map. Is this new?

disarm, adhere to the will of the people or leave (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582438)

too simple? telling us what our intentions are (looks like hate/kill/starve/die), does not change what they really are.

deciding which rulers, kings, minions etc.. that are exempted from the aforementioned, should not be difficult? all for one...

nothing cosmic/out of reach, about that?

like we don't know what our will is? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582478)

it's what we want to happen after we die, right? might as well be, if you have a shyster handy.

do we need anybody/co.gov to supply our will/legacy for us, or does it just look that way to the rest of the wwworld+dog?

Hope people pay attention to clouds (4, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582444)

"It was raining and the pollution was terrible, couldn't even see Rigel."

Re:Hope people pay attention to clouds (-1)

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You insensitive clod! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582452)

I live in Seattle. We can't see the sky through the clouds.

Re:You insensitive clod! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582680)

I was going to make a similar comment about Vancouver, Canada.

Re:You insensitive clod! (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582710)

So you can't even see Sol then. That's pretty bad ;)

Re:You insensitive clod! (2)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583184)

Nope. I've heard about it - it's in some place called the Blue Room.

Re:You insensitive clod! (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582792)

At least you get a great view of the Pacific Nebula.

Re:You insensitive clod! (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582988)

For my first 4 months at Ft. Lewis I thought Mt. Rainier was some mythical place found only in pictures. Then, one nice clear day, there it was! And then it was gone again.

Kinda makes you wanna drown your sorrows in some locally-produced meth and start the grunge scene.

Light pollution != Energy waste (2, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582466)

but also everyone else because of wasted energy.

I use solar-powered security lights which turn on at night . This helps with safety and security, and the benefits far outweight the cost.

The article is misleading, and referring to night-time illumination as "pollution" is derogatory and disingenuous. If you feel light except starlight is unwanted, then get a parcel of sufficient forested property, and don't cut down your trees, so you can take a walk far enough from civilization to see what you want.

You chose to live in a population concentrated, civilized, area, so you have to deal with the fact that humans are active at night, or concerned about other humans active at night who might be up to no good, and need light to see, protect, and safely move about.

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582676)

I think they're fine with your security lights as long as they point down. Any ray that points up doesn't help with safety and security, and is light pollution.

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (4, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582708)

The problem isn't nighttime illumination.

The problem is poorly designed nighttime illumination. Why are parking lot lights often aimed at a 30* angle, emitting much or most of their light skyward? Why are huge flood lights used to illuminate flags and signs, when a small spotlight would be more environmentally friendly and more efficient? Why are most street lamps still convex rather than concave or flat? Sure, even if nighttime lighting were properly designed as a general rule some light would be scattered by the atmosphere, and some would be reflected but if you ever visit a gated community with proper lighting you can see that traffic areas (walkways, streets, etc) are well lit and very safe, but the sky is still quite dark.

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582750)

but if you ever visit a gated community with proper lighting you can see that traffic areas (walkways, streets, etc) are well lit and very safe, but the sky is still quite dark.

Because gated communities pay the high-priced lighting design experts, due to wanting it to be aesthetically perfect, and have the money to pay for that? Lights pointed to the sky tend to cause glare, which is not all that aesthetically pleasant in a nice gated community area.

Why are parking lot lights often aimed at a 30* angle, emitting much or most of their light skyward?

Probably something about using as few lights as possible. If they pointed them straight down, a lot more lights would be required to achieve the same illumination. If they put them closer to the ground, the lighting would be easily blocked, or people would have to contend with the lights being distracting.

Why are huge flood lights used to illuminate flags and signs, when a small spotlight would be more environmentally friendly and more efficient?

Because this was done by the lowest bidder? The businesses owning the parking lots spent as little in the design of lighting as possible, and want good safety margin to ensure the flag/sign will be lighted; even when some worker or bad whether dicks up the position of the flag or light a bit?

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583238)

The problem is people feel safer if they can see the source of the light rather than just the effects.

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (2)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584288)

Which ironically makes them less safe, because of the increased shadow area and because their eyes adjust to the light source, making those shadows even darker...

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (1)

careysub (976506) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584508)

but if you ever visit a gated community with proper lighting you can see that traffic areas (walkways, streets, etc) are well lit and very safe, but the sky is still quite dark.

Because gated communities pay the high-priced lighting design experts, due to wanting it to be aesthetically perfect, and have the money to pay for that?

The OP used a poor example by citing a wealthy community (though an available one). He could of cited the entire city of Tucson which has used such lights since 1972. Using non-light-polluting fixtures (which can also be described as "more efficient fixtures") doesn't require high priced "lighting design experts", it only requires that you buy the fixtures.

Lights pointed to the sky tend to cause glare, which is not all that aesthetically pleasant in a nice gated community area.

And everywhere else also. Kinda the point. Why should every one else have a glare blighted sky, at considerable electrical cost?

Why are parking lot lights often aimed at a 30* angle, emitting much or most of their light skyward?

Probably something about using as few lights as possible. If they pointed them straight down, a lot more lights would be required to achieve the same illumination. If they put them closer to the ground, the lighting would be easily blocked, or people would have to contend with the lights being distracting.

Probably not. The energy inefficient, glare producing area illumination actually are already also pointed "straight down" (only the downward radiating photons illuminate the area in question. The problem is that the upward radiating photons aren't blocked or (preferably) reflected back to Earth. The efficient lights cover exactly the same area. The point about "upward pointed lights" actually refers to sign illumination, you know, like highway sign illumination at the sign base sending most of their photons up into the sky. Top mounted downward pointing lights illuminate the sign just as well, and some of the roadway as well - a plus.

Why are huge flood lights used to illuminate flags and signs, when a small spotlight would be more environmentally friendly and more efficient?

Because this was done by the lowest bidder? The businesses owning the parking lots spent as little in the design of lighting as possible, and want good safety margin to ensure the flag/sign will be lighted; even when some worker or bad whether dicks up the position of the flag or light a bit?

Because the issue never came up and they are buying what every one else is buying? Properly shielded lights actually cost about the same as a non-shielded fixture.

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35584990)

Absolutely true. Illumination which leaves the desired area should be considered pollution and controlled. I have observed automobile sales lots, acres in size, with very well controlled illumination and also fast-food sites, less that one acre, with extremely badly controlled lighting. In the latter case, the lighting is almost blinding to drivers on the nearby road. This sort of problem is fairly easily rectified by fitting "blinders" on the lighting source.

A number of residential lighting suppliers now provide fixtures which illuminate "down only". Of course there will be some reflected light, but it is not nearly as problematic as fixtures shining in all directions. It is incumbent upon the user to install fixtures of reasonable brightness for the application.

The underlying factor, naturally, is that most people just don't care.

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582990)

Don't forget the grue issue.

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583050)

Don't forget the grue issue.

Yes... light is important for warding off Grue infestations.

For this purpose a backup generator is recommended, as Grue can get indoors easily.

Another technique is to get a Wumpus, because Wumpus' eat grue.

The problem with that strategy though, is Wumpus eat neighbors too... so you better have them in fenced-in yards, and be sure to pack plenty of spare arrows.

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583232)

But I watch HDTV by candlelight and replaced the headlights in my Hummer with LEDs because of this article, you insensitive clod!

Re:Light pollution != Energy waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35584976)

Get a load of this asshole.

Rural NZ... (1)

linatux (63153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582470)

So dark sometimes, you can't see the wall you just walked into!
Need more LED's on my PC's...

City time (1, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582486)

>"find out how much light pollution there is in their area."

Tons! But I live in a city and there isn't much I can do about it. Mostly poorly designed street lights. Then there are those neighbors that think their property is so much better with a megawatt of flood lights all over. Ug.

But I would GLADLY put up with even more light pollution if it meant less NOISE pollution from damn modified motorcycles, leaf blowers, barking dogs, horns, sirens, and ESPECIALLY those "boom box cars" projecting their damn bass for 1/2 mile in all directions.

I grew up in a wooded suburb with no streetlights... it was so quiet and dark and peaceful. The sky was so pretty and the air so quiet.... Oh the good 'ol days. Didn't know how important those things were until I lost them.

It's silly call it "light pollution" (-1)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582520)

Whether you like the fact that we have lots of artificial light at night or not, it's silly to refer to it as "pollution." For some people -- astronomers and those who have a serious desire to look up and see the stars -- it's a problem. For others, it's no more a problem than the smell of honeysuckle is pollution. Framing something you don't like as "pollution" is a dishonest way to get people to quickly agree with you about something without giving it serious thought, but it's not terribly useful for promoting honest discussion.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582572)

Whether you like the fact that we have lots of artificial light at night or not, it's silly to refer to it as "pollution." For some people -- astronomers and those who have a serious desire to look up and see the stars -- it's a problem. For others, it's no more a problem than the smell of honeysuckle is pollution. Framing something you don't like as "pollution" is a dishonest way to get people to quickly agree with you about something without giving it serious thought, but it's not terribly useful for promoting honest discussion.

You want honesty?

When's the last time the smell of honeysuckle contributed to the demise of a species of animal?

When's the last time the smell of honeysuckle prevented kids from knowing about the sky they live under? There are kids (and adults) who not only don't know the constellations, but their jaws drop open when they see a non-light-polluted sky for the first time.

Why don't you just admit that you like the light, and don't like being told how to light the places you live and work?

There's honesty for you.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (1)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582658)

I don't have a position on the issue one way or the other. I just don't like linguistic dishonesty.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583206)

I don't have a position on the issue one way or the other. I just don't like linguistic dishonesty.

There's nothing dishonest about calling it pollution. It is just that.

Personally I'd like to see people light their environments sensibly with lights reflecting down not up. I hate that it seems it'll require legislation to fix this (or more likely it just won't be fixed) because people just don't care or are ignorant.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582732)

There are kids (and adults) who not only don't know the constellations, but their jaws drop open when they see a non-light-polluted sky for the first time.

Hehe I was the opposite. Coming from Australia, the first time I went to the US as a 17 year old, my jaw dropped when I saw how ~few~ stars can be seen at night over there. I hadn't imagined it would be so bad, because even in the large cities in Australia you can usually still see a fair few stars. I realise now this is because in the US, you have towns and cities quite close to each other. In most of the eastern half of the country, there's not more than a few miles between one town and the next, so there's light coming from a vast area of land. Whereas in Australia, even in a large city throwing off a huge amount of light, the next significant settlement once you leave that city is generally hundreds or even thousands of km away. So it's not so much the intensity of the light in the US that causes the difference, it's the 'widespreadness' of it.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583252)

also, in the south hemisphere you can see many more stars, since we point to center of the galaxy.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582600)

It's equally silly to suggest that just because you don't personally care about it, something with documented adverse effects not only on people, but on nature in general, isn't a problem.

By that standard, mercury pollution isn't a problem, either. I happen to like the way it makes my brain taste all crackly. It's therefore dishonest of you to refer to mercury as pollution, since personal opinion outweighs scientific studies.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35584468)

It's equally silly to suggest that just because you don't personally care about it, something with documented adverse effects not only on people, but on nature in general, isn't a problem.

Post links to that documentation please.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582638)

I think the only way though to counter the tightly-nit group who wants to call it "light pollution" is to start a group that wants to do the polar opposite.

Ensure the safety of citizens and reduce crime rates by generating at much night-time light as possible.

Perhaps some tax credits for property owners releasing at least 1000 lumens in the aggregate over at least 50 outdoor lights. 180 degree coverage angle required by the collection of lights with concentrated light beams projected no lower than 90 degrees above nadir.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583074)

Your crusade on this is pretty annoying. Studies have been done that show streetlights don't reduce crime at all. And frankly, even if they did, I'd still take stars over the slightly increased risk of getting mugged.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583392)

It'd be poetic justice if someone were to assault (or mug) him during the day. Then he'd see what's what.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583832)

Studies have been done that show streetlights don't reduce crime at all.

I knew a very larcenous person that once told me,
he appreciated when someone parked under a street
light, cause he didn't have to use his flashlight and
attract attention.

Now, you can believe a cop, or a thief... but he made
more than the cops.

-@|

It's silly not to call it "light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582652)

Light pollution is unnecessary and misdirected lights that do nothing except,

1. illuminate the sky, and
2. it create pollution - power is not free and most of it still comes from polluting sources (nuclear is still only a small fraction and renewable, except for hydroelectric, is less than 1% in more places)

so light pollution is polluting the sky in both meanings. It's silly not to call it pollution.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582694)

Whether you like the fact that we have lots of artificial light at night or not, it's silly to refer to it as "pollution." For some people -- astronomers and those who have a serious desire to look up and see the stars -- it's a problem. For others, it's no more a problem than the smell of honeysuckle is pollution. Framing something you don't like as "pollution" is a dishonest way to get people to quickly agree with you about something without giving it serious thought, but it's not terribly useful for promoting honest discussion.

It IS "pollution", in the sense that each photon that goes upwards is a WASTED photon, since the primary function of our lights is to illuminate the ground (and its surroundings), and not the sky. So no, the term "light pollution" is not a linguistic dishonesty.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (2)

Viceice (462967) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582696)

It's not just astronomers. All this unnecessary lighting is also bad for wildlife. It's known to mess up the navigational ability of migratory birds for instance. There's also a whole list of negative effects associated with over lighting.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582816)

It wouldn't be a problem if it was limited to the center of town where there may be activity at night. I for one quite like being in cities that never go dark. It's the combination of suburban and exurban sprawl with lighting that's making it a problem. We're turning the whole world into a single big city slowly but surely.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583208)

Personally, I find the smell of most flowers highly offensive to the point that strong flower odors make me want to exit an area quickly.

Doesn't stop people from putting flowers every-fn-where. Before I left my last job, they had started putting a fresh bouquet of flowers in the lobby every day. I dreaded having to go in and out of the building and have to be near that damn bouquet.

The smell of honeysuckle is sure as hell pollution to me.*

The point being is that one person's "no problem" might another person's pollution. Some people consider excess light to be harmful, and therefore it is pollution to them. It doesn't make the characterization dishonest, it's merely opinion.

*Note that I am not on a rampage to screw all the people out there who like flowers. I recognize that my view is not shared by many.

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35584420)

Framing something you don't like as "pollution" is a dishonest way to get people to quickly agree with you about something without giving it serious thought, but it's not terribly useful for promoting honest discussion.

Well that's it. Turn in your political correctness award. If you're going to tell the truth, we can't allow you to call yourself PC

Re:It's silly call it "light pollution" (1)

careysub (976506) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584544)

There is developing evidence that light pollution actually exacerbates air pollution - it appears to inhibit dark reactions (that's what they are called) that break down air pollution at night, thus increasing it in the day also. See Nighttime photochemistry: nitrate radical destruction by anthropogenic light sources [harvard.edu]

starlight can help us map the expanding holycost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582540)

what a concept? pollution? once the infactdead holycost ends, there won't be any left? we knew star gazing & hand waving fit in this maelstrom somewhere? see you at the play-dates etc...

Re:starlight can help us map the expanding holycos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583466)

English is your second language, isn't it?

do the fake clouds prevent the stars from seeing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582574)

the 'polluting'/remaining light? can't we just get rid of the offending light? vaporize it? make there be less people trying to see stuff in the night? something? less is always better, unless you're a king/minion. then you just have to put out the lights for other people?

babys rule. please fail to discount/trivialize the ongrowing photon showers. thanks.

like hunting sparks in a blast furnace (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582686)

there's squinting. sometimes that helps, but can cause wrinkles? damned ('polluting') light?

when one cries, another one sheds a tear in some way? hurt one... it becomes even much bigger than that. the lights are coming up all over now.

best bets; everyone (on our planet) voluntarily disarm ourselves/our 'allies'. carry on as it was originally intended for all of us. we instinctively know what that is.

highly wagered longshots; eugenatics, weapons peddlers, kings/minions, genetically altered mutants/hired goons. media decepticons, adrians, religiously infactdead groanups, fake weather/induced seismicity 'scientists' etc... hold on to your equatorial equilibrium.

in the end...in the middle... & from the beginning, babys rule.

exploding babys; corepirate nazis to be caged (Score:mynutwon; not here you don't)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, @10:50PM (#35476142)
there are plans to put them, (the genetically, surgically & chemically
altered coreprate nazi mutant fear/death mongerers (aka47; eugenatics,
weapons peddlers, kings/minions, adrians, freemasons etc...)) on display
in glass cages, around the world, so that we can remember not to forget...
again, what can happen, based on greed/fear/ego stoking deception.

viewing/feeding will be rationed based on how many more of the creators'
innocents are damaged, or have to be brought home (& they DO have another
one) prematurely.---

so, we'll then expect to see you at any one of the million babys+
play-dates, conscience arisings, georgia stone editing(s), photon gatherings & a host of
other life promoting/loving events. guaranteed to activate all of our
sense(s) at once. perhaps you have seen our list of pure intentions for
you /us, beginning with disarmament?

Re:like hunting sparks in a blast furnace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583210)

These rants are at their most entertaining if you imagine it being read by a beatnik with a black turtleneck and beret performing it as spoken word at a night club in the early 60s

calibrate your eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582654)

If you go to http://www.globeatnight.org/ you will find explanations of how to compare the stars you see in the sky with a set scale of images. There is an interactive test so you assure the project your rating of star detail matches their own rating scale. Easy way for people to contribute.

Study results: (2)

digitalcowboy (142658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582656)

You know who doesn't have a light pollution problem?

North Korea!

(Did I misunderstand the whole Godwin thing?)

Whatever (2)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582660)

I'd like to see a more quantitative study. Why not try to measure the ambient light in these environments? Then we can compare it to the light received in a telescope from various stars in the same local. Most people intuitively know that light pollution makes it so you cannot see the stars easily in brighter cities, why waste the time of multiple people to explain something obvious. Its better to actually get real and scientific data you can use for something worthwhile, like illumination correction, optimal location of observatories, etc.

Re:Whatever (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582834)

Most people do not own light meters, and most that do have meters that only measure down to .1 or .01 lux. Besides, ground-level light is not a good measurement of what the sky looks like.

Re:Whatever (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582940)

So fire a satellite up into the sky.

Re:Whatever (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582960)

There are plenty of those maps already, and telescopes are placed at some of these locations. A high resolution map in a city is meaningless except on a dry windy cloudless night that has blown all particulate matter away, so maybe then the scatter from lights will be low, so there will be local dark spots, where you see the stars well. I doubt the scatter is ever that low. So I think you are correct, there is no value here, besides aesthetic.

Re:Whatever (2)

jlb.think (1719718) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582976)

You are definitely correct that this is a very bad way to actually measure the light pollution, but that isn't the point.  By getting more people involved they are getting the word out.  When more people are aware of what is going on then by convention the more likely it will be that architects, light manufactures, city planners, etc. will implement projects differently.

"obvious" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35584370)

Most people intuitively know that light pollution makes it so you cannot see the stars easily in brighter cities, why waste the time of multiple people to explain something obvious.

There are a lot of obvious things that people don't pay attention to. Just ask Fox News.

Beautiful evening; (1)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582798)

you can almost see the stars...

I see Houston light just east of San Antonio (2)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582850)

at night.

Driving East towards Houston in the middle of the night is like driving into the sunrise even if the sun sat behind you not but a couple of hours ago. Considering I grew up on desert side of the state I know what the sky is supposed to look like at night, and I know what it doesn't look like here, it's just a glow. Yeah, this whole region could use some light shading.

Re:I see Houston light just east of San Antonio (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582904)

Head north, my buddy lives in the hill country between San Antonio and Austin and I was able to see the milkyway from his ranch.

iinfernal holycost, glowbull warmongering, ending? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582860)

it's completely up to US. babys rule. perfect math.

Ob (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35582924)

go outside and find out how much light pollution there is in their area

Tried that, but it was so dark I couldn't see a damn thing.

An App for that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35582950)

I fully expected there to be an iPhone/Android app to download which would use the built in camera to measure the ambient light/light pollution/relative brightness of the stars. Google's sky map app is great for pointing at the sky, twirling around and identifying the constellations and individual stars/objects so targeting Leo/Crux would be easier, and the whole process could be more idiot-proof and less error-prone, especially if the conditions were only as good as their "Magnitude 0.5" chart. (Which are surely the conditions they want to map the most.) It wouldn't be as accurate as a Sky Quality Meter, but it might allow far more people to share the conditions at their location.

Extra-black asphalt please (1)

davet2001 (1550151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583024)

This subject is clearly driven by astronomers with a desire to view the night sky. The issue of wasted energy seems only to be mentioned to gather support. This is clear in the first article which suggests using a 'shade' to make street lamps more efficient. A reflector is necessary if you want to get more useful energy out, as an opaque shade will just make your lamp housing hotter. I believe that modern designs do include reflectors now.

The biggest issue being overlooked here seems to be what happens to the light that shines down as intended. This light reflects off things sending light upwards regardless of the lamp design. If you look at the aerial motor race photograph linked below you will notice that most of the light seems to be coming from the track itself, not the lights.
http://www.craigfergusonimages.com/2009/11/aerial-f1-singapore-at-night-by-wong-kin-leong/ [craigfergusonimages.com]

Expect astronomers to soon start requesting:
-extra black grades of asphalt
-turning all the lights off whenever possible
-laws against parking white cars under streetlamps

A similar study was done in the late nineties by a UK TV program called tomorrows world where they asked viewers to look through an empty toilet roll at a specific star and count the visible stars around it. The big win was probably the increased interest in astronomy from all the children looking through their 'mini telescopes' rather than the actual data.

--
This is the last time I try to comment on slashdot from an iPhone. Apologies for the crappy formatting

Re:Extra-black asphalt please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583242)

The biggest issue being overlooked here seems to be what happens to the light that shines down as intended. This light reflects off things sending light upwards regardless of the lamp design. If you look at the aerial motor race photograph linked below you will notice that most of the light seems to be coming from the track itself, not the lights.

Your cars' headlights only illuminate the road because the road reflects it back up in your face. Notice how when it rains, it's a lot "darker" and harder to see? That's because the light scatters away from your eyes more than when the road is dry.

Using non-reflective road surfaces might seem like a good idea, but what it will do is make the roads a lot more dangerous at night, especially in rainy weather. And exactly what is the problem this light "pollution" is causing, exactly? Do we have migrating birds with insomnia or something?

Seriously, the light "pollution" might not be pleasing to the eyes of the stargazers, but it's not a problem for anything else. And before we running around tyring to "solve" the problem, we need to think about the consequences of that solution.

Re:Extra-black asphalt please (1)

davet2001 (1550151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583440)

I agree. All of the measures that worsen visibility at night impact road safety. Road safety is more important and matters to many more people than slightly better amateur astronomy. The point that I was making is that this is a problem that is ridiculous to attempt to solve.

Re:Extra-black asphalt please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583372)

Are you a lighting salesman or something?

Maybe you're just shit-scared of the Evil boogeymen hiding in every "dark" corner?

The astronomical aspect of light pollution, while important, is merely a part of the whole issue.

Why are you so determined to defend the senseless energy wastage of poorly designed light fixtures?

With most light fixtures, something like 50-80% of light is wasted horizontally and vertically.

That's glare into the eyes of drivers and pedestrians, and glare into the sky.

For what?

It actually lessens security, because the shadows appear to be much deeper and darker, because so little of the light is going where it's wanted and needed.

There are many "with-and-without/before-and-after" comparison images to be found which show the dramatic improvements achieved when efficiently designed lighting is employed.

And the whole "It's not really pollution!!!111" bullshit?

Try getting your kids to sleep properly when a neighbor's zillion candlepower "security" light shines into their bedroom all night long - even after you have installed window shades because of it.

Oh, and if that neighbor also blasted a stereo all night long, would you deny it was noise pollution?

Re:Extra-black asphalt please (3, Interesting)

Iskender (1040286) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583546)

This subject is clearly driven by astronomers with a desire to view the night sky. The issue of wasted energy seems only to be mentioned to gather support. This is clear in the first article which suggests using a 'shade' to make street lamps more efficient. A reflector is necessary if you want to get more useful energy out, as an opaque shade will just make your lamp housing hotter. I believe that modern designs do include reflectors now.

It doesn't really matter why astronomers say what they say. What matters is if it's true. And there is no doubt that illuminating the sky directly is a waste of electricity and therefore money. If they advocate less than stellar solutions then the answer is to get better solutions, not to ignore the whole light pollution issue.

The biggest issue being overlooked here seems to be what happens to the light that shines down as intended. This light reflects off things sending light upwards regardless of the lamp design. If you look at the aerial motor race photograph linked below you will notice that most of the light seems to be coming from the track itself, not the lights.
http://www.craigfergusonimages.com/2009/11/aerial-f1-singapore-at-night-by-wong-kin-leong/ [craigfergusonimages.com]

I don't think anyone is overlooking that. If you look, I doubt you can find many who say "We should eliminate ALL light pollution from urban areas". That's not happening, and everyone knows it. Astronomers accept the lesser bad of reflected light, and strive towards that rather than some improbable utopia.

There's another thing too: light pollution is rarely created above light fixtures (which is where the picture is taken from), but to the side. Streetlights mostly light pollute in the near horizontal, meaning they tend to light pollute some distance away from themselves. If the camera actually was in the line of sight of the light sources (like people on the ground, or the sky when floodlights point at it) then the picture would be so full of camera flare that it wouldn't look even half as pretty.

To sum up: reflected light is a problem, but it's nothing at all like what we have now, so people who care would be happy to deal with it instead.

Reflected Light (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583030)

When light is directed downward at the ground some of that light is reflected upward again. Otherwise we could not see what is on the ground. How do you stop light being reflected by the ground? People want to be able to see when walking the streets after dark, play sports at night, etc.

There are some lights that need improvement but great strides have been made. The bad lights can not be found by people describing ambient light.

Another issue is that when people look at the sky they have generally just left a building with white light and probably have a street light in their field of vision. They are effectively night blind and seeing any stars will be difficult.

Re:Reflected Light (1)

careysub (976506) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584674)

When light is directed downward at the ground some of that light is reflected upward again. Otherwise we could not see what is on the ground. How do you stop light being reflected by the ground?

You don't, and that's okay. The reflectivity of stuff on the ground is on average fairly low (like 10% or less), whereas for directly emitted photons it is 100%. One doesn't need to entirely eliminate every part of a problem to deal with the major part of the problem.

Re:Reflected Light (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584914)

Take a look at this data http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Albedo-e_hg.svg [wikipedia.org] . Notice that the albedo of dry earth ranges from 22 to 35. Snow is up to 85. The number 10% is very low.

The main issue with this article is that it does not articulate what is causing the problem. It just tries to measure it an inaccurately at that.

Realtime Light polution map of the earth (2)

xippie (925090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583100)

You can see a real-time light polution map here http://www.die.net/earth/?zoom=1 [die.net]

Google Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35583376)

For a night map of the Earth using Google Maps API: http://www.nightearth.com

Sorry for advertising, but I think it is a somewhat relevant link.

Re:Google Maps (1)

itamihn (1213328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35583402)

Posted as AC by mistake.

"Light pollution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35584004)

Yeah all that light pollution is surely a bad thing. My jaw totally doesn't drop in awe when a see a city from afar. There's no way it'd be better than looking at stars.

It gets ronry at night... (1)

lewko (195646) | more than 2 years ago | (#35584268)

North Korea FTW [globalsecurity.org] .

RAPISTS CELEBRATE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35584620)

Yes please turn out all the lights, it makes it easier for me to rape the ladies when there is no safety net out there

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