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Making War On Light Pollution

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the if-i-could-save-time-in-a-bortle dept.

Space 437

Hugh Pickens writes "Almost thirty years ago I worked in the Middle East helping install a nationwide communications system and had the opportunity to be part of a team doing microwave link tests across Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter. Something I've never forgotten were the astonishing nights I spent in the desert hundreds of miles from the nearest city where the absence of light made looking at the sky on a moonless night feel like you were floating in the middle of the galaxy. In Galileo's time, nighttime skies all over the world would have merited the darkest Bortle ranking, Class 1. Today, the sky above New York City is Class 9 and American suburban skies are typically Class 5, 6, or 7. The very darkest places in the continental United States today are almost never darker than Class 2, and are increasingly threatened. Read a story from the New Yorker on what we have lost to light pollution and how some cities are adopting outdoor lighting standards to save the darkness."

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Bah (5, Funny)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523707)

Someone's firing too much magic missile.

Re:Bah (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523775)

Someone's firing too much magic missile.
Maybe they should try some of the more advanced laser foreskin removal techniques.

Ah fuck that. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523723)

How often do you look at the sky and how often do you look in front of you. Would you rather have a nice view of the stars or would you like to see where you're going?

Read article, open mouth. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523841)

If you would RTFA instead of rushing for first post you'd see that it mentions that, when properly done, reducing the excessive and inappropriately strong lighting that covers most cities would actually aid nighttime vision by eliminating the glare.

Re:Read article, open mouth. (2, Insightful)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524045)

Amen to that. Driving in a city with nighttime lights reflecting off of every surface makes it much harder to see than driving down an unlit country rode where there is little glare.

Re:Ah fuck that. (0)

Criterion (51515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523939)

I look at the sky almost every night. Hint, my nick is that of a classic telescope company, of which I own a pristine example. Please educate yourself on the issue, or at least the article, before you attempt to make light of the situation (punny).

Re:Ah fuck that. (5, Insightful)

AJ Mexico (732501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524129)

Actually, we can improve lighting on earth, save energy, AND improve our view of the cosmos. Our existing nighttime lighting is enormously wasteful. Good lighting design lets you "see where you're going", without blinding you with glare, or destroying your night vision with excessive light. Please visit the International Dark Sky Association [darksky.org] which has been working to solve this problem for decades. First, realize that lights that shine up into the sky are helping no one. Any electricity used to illuminate the sky is wasteful and causes light pollution. Properly shielded lights direct light at the ground where it is helpful, instead of at the sky.

Re:Ah fuck that. (4, Interesting)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524227)

How often do you look at the sky and how often do you look in front of you. Would you rather have a nice view of the stars or would you like to see where you're going?
I used to live in Flagstaff, AZ. home of Lowell Observatory; in Flagstaff we had an ordinance against excessive light pollution, and at night the city was almost completely dark, it was really great to ride my bike through downtown with the minimal light. I don't know how practical this is in some situation as well lit areas are generally seen as safer, but i really miss it sometimes.

This is outrageous (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523733)

We should be making love on light pollution, not war!

Re:This is outrageous (1)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523843)

We should be making love on light pollution, not war!

No, it is make install. How many times do I have to tell you that you get things done by make install?

Re:This is outrageous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523871)

i never compile the source.. i prefer

apt-get install dark-sky

Re:This is outrageous (0, Offtopic)

Criterion (51515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524071)

Tried that, it's not in the repository.

Re:This is outrageous (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523887)

I tried having sex with a light bulb once, but I think she was a whore. I got such terrible blisters afterwards!

It's true (5, Interesting)

wamerocity (1106155) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523735)

I live in Salt Lake City, and the light pollution here is just like any other city. My favorite place is to visit Lake Powell, near the Arizona border where there are no city lights for at least 50-100 miles.

I always thought it would be nice if we had one day a year where people made a conscious effort to turn off all their lights, like "Star's Day" or some other stupid name so people could have one night a year to keep lights off, but that would inevitably just lead to an increase in crime for that night, so... darn.

We'll just have to enjoy it when I'm camping.

Re:It's true (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523903)

You can blame Negroes and "Hispanics" for most the crime which would occur. See this fascinating article. [amren.com]

Re:It's true (2, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524189)

if they handed out night vision goggles to everyone, nobody would need any lights on to walk around and drive and stuff. That's the real solution. Then it'd be real dark [i]every[/i] day

Re:It's true (1)

Criterion (51515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524283)

Funnily enough my car has these things called "headlights". If yours is not so equipped I suggest you have a serious chat with your dealership. ;)

On a serious note, if it is dark outside you can actually see better with no lights causing your pupils to contract than with the constant glare of them.

Re:It's true (5, Informative)

CoralCain2002 (592657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524263)

I have a friend who lives in Park City, UT who got fed up enough with the local light pollution that he decided to do something about it. He founded a company that only sells dark sky friendly lights. Its called Starry Night Lights http://www.starrynightlights.com/ [starrynightlights.com] . Check it out if you really want to do your part.

Re:It's true (1)

Criterion (51515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524295)

Thank you for the link! I will check out his wares.

Re:It's true (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524367)

I always thought it would be nice if we had one day a year where people made a conscious effort to turn off all their lights, like "Star's Day" or some other stupid name so people could have one night a year to keep lights off, but that would inevitably just lead to an increase in crime for that night, so... darn.

We had something similar here recently, but it wasn't for the benefit of the stars. There was a "turn off all your lights to save power and reduce global warming" night. I participated mostly because I only ever have on one small light here because I am not up long enough at night to need thousands of watts in lights.

It's amazing the amount of waste. We could pull every second street light in the world and halve the amount of light without really making it visibly darker. I lay in bed with the curtains closed on a shitty overcast night (last night) and there is still enough light from the street lights coming through the curtains that the room is lit up. It's scary the many hundreds of watts of lighting running on my street alone.

All this outdoor lighting doesn't just ruin astronomy. The effects much closer to home are that we are making enormous amounts of waste to produce all these lights, and make the power to run them.

And if Roswell is anything to go by, all this light is just a shining intergalactic beacon telling the little green men where to come and kill us.

Straw Man Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523739)

Ok, so maybe this is a straw man, but if you like viewing the night sky it is up to you to get a good view for your hobby. Is a better sky view for a few enthusiasts really worth the cost of someone (extra) getting mugged in a dark parking lot or one extra girl getting raped on a dark street/alley?

Re:Straw Man Alert (4, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523813)

The average supermarket parking lot is much brighter at midnight than necessary. You also don't need the entire parking lot lit all night, when on most nights, the first two rows of lights would suffice for the night-time customers. After parking lot lights, the biggest offenders are billboards and other illuminated advertising signs. These can be turned off without compromising public safety, and with minimal harm to the efficacy of the advertising.

Re:Straw Man Alert (3, Insightful)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523971)

The average supermarket parking lot is much brighter at midnight than necessary. You also don't need the entire parking lot lit all night, when on most nights, the first two rows of lights would suffice for the night-time customers. After parking lot lights, the biggest offenders are billboards and other illuminated advertising signs. These can be turned off without compromising public safety, and with minimal harm to the efficacy of the advertising.
It would totally suck if we cut the lighting in Time Square or Shibuya or the Las Vegas strip. It is one thing to cut light on a exurban freeway billboard, but there are plenty of places that would lose their character without all the bright lights.

Re:Straw Man Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20524103)

For parking lots, just having light shields would be good. Much of the photos go up where they are no use.

Re:Straw Man Alert (4, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524199)

Besides turning off lights, just modifying them can make a tremendous difference. Calgary, Alberta used to be one of the brightest cities in the world (despite having a population under a million) and at night you could see about six stars. Most neighborhoods now have lower wattage street lights with flat faceplates. They're much more effective at directing light downwards instead of up into the sky so the overall illumination on the ground is the same. The city saves millions a year in power and you can see constellations again.

Re:Straw Man Alert (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523989)

Where's your evidence that lights reduce crime at all? If having some lights does reduce crime, where's your evidence that there aren't already more than the optimum number of lights? I know people think that lights reduce crime, but there seems to be little or no proof of it. In fact, what little research I've seen seems to indicate that lights, at least added on top of the lights we already have in cities, do not reduce crime.

In any case, a lot could be done by just aiming the lights at the parking lot itself, rather than at the sky. There aren't that many flying muggers or rapists.

I don't believe that nothing can be done about light pollution while maintaining ground-level lighting, and I honestly doubt that light reduces crime much anyway.

However, even if I'm wrong about that, a better sky view for the majority of the world's population (that's BILLIONS of people) probably is worth a few muggings and even rapes... it takes a stunted soul, or somebody who's never seen a real night sky, not to realize the value. We're not talking about "hobbyists" or "enthusiasts". We're talking about any human being with a functioning spirit.

Re:Straw Man Alert (4, Interesting)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524259)

There is some evidence that improved street lighting has the potential to improve safety - it's been studied a bit in the UK (often in the context of better lighting vs increased CCTV or the like), and there has been a general positive correlation. One meta-analysis of the studies published by the home office a few years ago can be found here [homeoffice.gov.uk] , and I'm sure google scholar can provide oodles of links to the underlying studies if you desire.

What's notable though, is that there is a considerable variation in the result based on where the study was done (and, presumably, the exact difference between the test and control situations, as I haven't went through all the underlying studies myself), with many areas producing negligible changes, or even statistically significant increases in certain types of crime with the introduction of additional lighting. The most simple conclusion is that the lighting has to be sensibly managed: floodlights on every street corner are not necessary, and may even be detrimental. Which means that there is certainly the possibility that the goals of improving the visibility of the sky and the improvement of street lighting (improvement not strictly meaning increase, of course) are not necessarily incompatible.

Re:Straw Man Alert (5, Insightful)

Criterion (51515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524023)

Wow, what can I say but that was a seriously uneducated answer. How come people can't think that there might be a way to better the situation than to turn off the lights? How about.. maybe.. just maybe.. use light fixtures that don't blast kilowatts of light energy into the sky where they're not needed? Huh? Can you answer that one? In fact, with the same amount of light energy, but directed where it's useful actually makes a much brighter area where people are walking, parking, whatever. To achieve the same level of visibility on the ground, and make the sky darker would actually SAVE energy.

Here is a little excerpt from the article (which you obviously are oblivious to else you wouldn't post foolishness) that seems fitting...

"A burglar who is forced to use a flashlight, or whose movement triggers a security light controlled by an infrared motion sensor, is much more likely to be spotted than one whose presence is masked by the blinding glare of a poorly placed metal halide "wall pack." In the early seventies, the public-school system in San Antonio, Texas, began leaving many of its school buildings, parking lots, and other property dark at night and found that the no-lights policy not only reduced energy costs but also dramatically cut vandalism."

morals. (4, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523745)

A couple that was married for 20 years always made love with the lights off.

Well, after 20 years, the wife felt this was ridiculous. She figured she would break him out of this crazy habit.

So one night, while they were in the middle of a wild, screaming, romantic session, she turned the lights on.

She looked down... and saw that her husband was holding a battery-operated pleasure device -- a vibrator -- softer and larger than a real penis.

She went completely ballistic. "You impotent bastard," she screamed at him, "how could you be lying to me all of these years? You better explain yourself!"

The husband looks her straight in the eyes and says calmly:

"I'll explain the toy... if you explain the kids."

Moral of the story? everyone is happy when you turn the lights off at night.

Re:morals. (3, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523869)

Thank you for that illuminating story. Yet another example that people take serious discussion on pollution far too lightly.

Re:morals. (0, Redundant)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524101)

Thank you for that illuminating story.
That was a good pun.

Re:morals. (0, Redundant)

SageMusings (463344) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524215)

did you get ....."far too lightly" ?

Re:morals. (0, Offtopic)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524267)

My post was well intentioned.
Why did yours have to be condescending?

Re:morals. (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524033)

She looked down... and saw that her husband was holding a battery-operated pleasure device -- a vibrator -- softer and larger than a real penis.
Softer?

Re:morals. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20524289)

Wouldn't he be using a dildo? A battery operated vibrator would be loud, and vibrating, giving its presence away.

San Jose (3, Informative)

doxology (636469) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523759)

In San Jose, all the white streetlamps were replaced with low pressure Sodium lamps so that light pollution would not impact research at nearby Lick Observatory [wikipedia.org] so much. Not only are they not as bright, but (more importantly) they're monochromatic and can easily be filtered. If more cities adopted these, we'd be able to see the stars much better (with the right optical filter, of course).

Unfortunately, a lot of citizens of San Jose want white lights for some reason (especially car dealerships), so I don't know how much longer that'll last.

Re:San Jose (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523881)

I can tell you that living in San Jose for the past 5 years, the yellow lights are annoying. I drive a lot at night, and its really hard to see sometimes, especially when your tired. The contrast from the yellow lights is so terrible sometimes, Its hard to see small cats/dogs/possums/skunks in the road. (I know, ive hit quite a few skunks myself, roakkill in San Jose, especially the North side is always high) Also, because we're not use to that particular yellow, it also makes your eyes tired, faster.

Its a great idea, but a different type of yellow, or another color would work better.

Re:San Jose (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523993)

As someone who drive through San Jose once in a while, the yellow is horrible, because you can't tell the street lights apart from the traffic lights.

Simple answer to this (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524385)

Allow white lights until say 10, and then after that require just the yellow lights. When I was a kid, I grew up in the country and can remember the stars that I saw. It was incredible. Now, whenever I look out there, it is just a fraction. But it is not just Light pollution.

My father was a pilot on b-49's and other miltary aircrafts, and later on the commercial aircrafts. He was telling me about the stars that he used to see in the 40's (from the ground),50's (from the planes),and somewhat into the 60s, vs what he see now at 35-50K ft.

Apparently, the view up at 45-55K during the late 50's was stupendous. Now, it is like the ground was in the 60's. Light pollution is easily changed, but it is obvious that it is air pollution that becomes the real killer.

Best skies I've ever seen. (4, Interesting)

oman_ (147713) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523765)

The most impressive sky I have ever seen was right after a typhoon on the island of Guam.
I snuck out of my house when I was 16 and the island was still under a typhoon warning and nobody was outside.

The entire island and the neighboring island of Truk were both without power entirely and there was not a single cloud in the sky.
It truly was a spectacular sight and I do feel sad when I look up into the night here in the states.

You can't imagine what it's like until you've seen it for yourself. Really

Re:Best skies I've ever seen. (1)

Mouthless Wolf (1153783) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523845)

damn, sounds pretty amazing.

Re:Best skies I've ever seen. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524305)

I know what you mean. The best night sky I ever saw was late at night on Tonkin Gulf while my ship was on patrol back in '72. The LA sky was probably just as good just after the Northrige Quake, but I had other things to think about at the moment and didn't really get a good look.

Re:Best skies I've ever seen. (1)

Debello (1030486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524387)

I was really depressed when I visited Las Vegas because the sky was so oppressive and black. Even here in Kansas City, there are starts, but so few that you can count them. I really want to move to the country when I grow older so I can live under the stars like we were before.

Re:Best skies I've ever seen. (1)

bjwest (14070) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524389)

Been there (twice within the same year, by the way) and I agree it is amazing. Although nothing on earth can compare to being on the flight deck in the middle of the ocean during darken ship. No light for thousands of miles other than the stars.

Cities fuck every up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523771)

With their concentrations of technology and arts and entertainment and seeing the road at night and such.

They steal our guns and they steal our sky. The sooner they go, the better.

most intriguing point in TFA (1)

EdBear69 (823550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523779)

You can get cancer from leaving the lights on!?!

From the article:

The twenty-four-hour day/night cycle, which is also known as the circadian clock, influences physiological processes in virtually all living things. Pervasive artificial illumination has existed for such a brief period that not even the species that invented it has had time to adapt, biologically or otherwise. The most widely discussed human malady related to the disturbance of circadian rhythms is jet lag, but there are others. Richard Stevens, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Connecticut Health Center, in Farmington, has suggested a link between cancer and the "circadian disruption" of hormones caused by artificial lighting. Early in his career, Stevens was one of many researchers struck by the markedly high incidence of breast cancer among women in the industrialized world, in comparison with those in developing countries, and he at first supported the most common early hypothesis, which was that the cause must be dietary. Yet repeated studies found no clear link to food. In the early eighties, Stevens told me recently, "I literally woke up in the middle of the night--there was a street lamp outside the window, and it was so bright that I could almost read in my bedroom--and I thought, Could it be that?" A few years later, he persuaded the authors of the Nurses' Health Study, one of the largest and most rigorous investigations of women's medical issues ever undertaken, to add questions about nighttime employment, and the study subsequently revealed a strong association between working the night shift and an increased risk of breast cancer. Eva Schernhammer, of the Harvard Medical School, and Karl Schulmeister, an Austrian physicist, analyzed the work-shift data from the Nurses' Study several years ago, and wrote, "We hypothesize that the potential primary culprit for this observed association is the lack of melatonin, a cancer-protective agent whose production is severely diminished in people exposed to light at night."

Re:most intriguing point in TFA (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524253)

no, you get cancer from not going out in the daylight. Something that far too many people do now that they can decide to stay in instead with the lights on.

The quote you gave said "... revealed a strong association between working the night shift and an increased risk of breast cancer"

A public service announcement from Al Gore... (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523787)

Stop the light pollution... tint your windows.

Women want light (1, Insightful)

jeorgen (84395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523789)

At least where I live, many women demand more lighting during the night, for reasons of safety. And I think them feeling safer is worth more than more visible stars in the sky. Same goes for streetlights for road safety.

Re:Women want light (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523835)

because glare makes people safe. Okaay...

Re:Women want light (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523865)

Same goes for streetlights for road safety.


I hate the muddy lighting conditions that streetlights produce. There's not enough light to clearly see what's going on, but there's too much light for things lit by your car's headlights to stand out.

Re:Women want light (4, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523885)

it is sad truth that most people prefer feeling safe to actually being safe.

Re:Women want light (3, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524363)

It's called "security theater," and that's all most airports provide. All those metal detectors at government buildings, courts and so on only prevent two things: stupid criminals and honest people from going about their business without let or hindrance.

There was an incident at the VA hospital on Wilshire Blvd in LA once, over twenty years ago. From then on, until about a year ago, you had to go through metal detectors to get into the waiting room for the main clinic, even though there was no evidence that there was any threat. However, you didn't have to go through them to get into any other part of the hospital; just the waiting room for the clinic. It took years of time, and numerous people complaining, but they were eventually deactivated. Not removed; just deactivated. They're still there, wasting space, doing nothing, having no more effect now than they did when they were in use. A perfect example of security theater in action.

Re:Women want light (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523933)

A chastity belt is more effective and less intrusive into others lives. Outside you can actually see better by starlight than if their are lights everywhere because the contrast makes anything not illuminated appear to be completely black and conceals anything hiding there.

Natural night-vision > Flashlights

Re:Women want light (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523981)

I'm a guy, I want light... :(

Re:Women want light (1)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524039)

If you actually read the article, you'll see that both of these are misconceptions.

Lights for security at night simple cause terrible glare and make it easier for criminals to work. The article mentions a school system that stopped lighting its facilities at night and saw a decrease in vandalism.

Likewise with roads. Lights everywhere simply wash things out. If you instead focus on reflectors, you can highlight the areas that need to be seen and make it easier to drive.

Re:Women want light (0)

drsquare (530038) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524381)

Rubbish. I drive on an unlit road to work at night, and when another car is coming the other way, when you pass you can't see five yards in front of you because of the glare of the headlights of the other car. I don't know how you consider this safe.

Worse still, if you're walking, you can't see a damn thing, including potholes and cracks in the pavement. It'd be very easy to accidently stray into the road and be run over.

But of course seeing alpha centauri in your amateur telescope is more important than safety, right?

Re:Women want light (1)

Criterion (51515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524057)

The problem with this is, it is *only* a "feeling of safety", and not actually more safe. The solution is better education on the subject for those people. I am a woman, I understand the issue.. it's not a genetic deficiency.

Also, streetlights != road safety.

Some education here please.. just a tiny bit would help. It's not painful, I promise.

Re:Women want light (1)

jim_deane (63059) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524061)


My car has headlights, and I manage to drive on unlit streets just fine.

Besides, this isn't about ELIMINATING exterior lighting, it is about designing lighting solutions to minimize wasted light that pollutes the sky.

Wasted light is wasted energy. There is no drawback to this idea.

Re:Women want light (5, Informative)

J. T. MacLeod (111094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524127)

Those of us from "out in the country" have a different perspective.

Most nights, it's easier to see in the absence of artificial light, because our eyes adapt to the more complete light coverage provided by the moon and stars. City and suburb folks have problems with darkness because of the incomplete coverage of the artificial lights causes ordinary darkness to appear pitch black, and creates shadows causing even more darkness.

Driving at night, I generally prefer to be out in the middle of nowhere, because I can see better with my headlights being the only light source.

Re:Women want light (4, Informative)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524135)

many women demand more lighting during the night, for reasons of safety.

They may be saying "more" light but they probably mean "more even" lighting. You could see better down a street or across a parking lot if it had half the brightness but it was evenly spread, vs intermittent very bright spots. So having it bright as the noon day sun in front of the bar actually makes it worse to walk across the parking lot, unless that is just as bright. If you have every been out in the country at night and you could see moderately well with a full moon (enough to play soccer, I've done it) that was what even lighting at about 0.035 foot-candles gives you as far as visibility. Most streetlights give you about .7 foot-candles, around 20X the brightness when you are right under the streetlight, but how far outside of the immediate scope of the streetlight can you see? The brighter the bright spots get, the higher the contrast and the less overall visibility you have. My point is that if you keep the brightness low, but take care to light up the dark shadowy spots as well, you can actually see better. Well lit shouldn't be confused with "brighter".

Re:Women want light (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524151)

Streetlights are WORTHLESS for road safety due to the areas of darkness and light they create, and the way they destroy your night vision. What we need for road safety is reflectors in the roads. Roads that have them are substantially easier to drive on at night and during heavy rain, especially heavy rain at night.

Re:Women want light (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524393)

No they're not. I often drive at night on unlit roads, in the rain, and even with cats eyes and headlights, you can barely see fifty yards ahead in a straight line. You can't see all the imperfections in the road, you can barely see the side of the road, and you can't see corners until you're on them. It's like driving blind.

Well, there is an upside (2, Interesting)

also-rr (980579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523807)

While lights at night may make the sky harder to see the effect will be very pretty [nasa.gov] for any visiting aliens.

In fact this story has inspired me to go and set up xplanet [sourceforge.net] again to provide an ever-changing desktop background.

A 20 year old fight. (3, Informative)

scattol (577179) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523817)

Tucson AZ has been fighting light pollution for more than 20 years. This isn't exactly a new fight. That said, it's gaining momentum. In part thanks to the IDA [darksky.org] . That having been said, this won't be won until the general population sees light pollution as a bad thing. We aren't there yet but with more general public articles there are chances that light pollution becomes as well known as air and water pollution.

For what it's worth, some estimate that there are about 700,000 amateur astronomers in the US. It's not a huge number. But it's much bigger than the just a few geeks that some would make you think.

It's a good fight and it starts at home, you can do your part by turning off the exterior lights of your house when you don't need them. With 2009 the international year of astronomy [astronomy2009.org] , if you help now, maybe we all will get a better view of the night sky to celebrate the 400 years of telescope observing of the night sky.

Only a severe energy crisis would make a dent (2)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523821)

The suburban sprawl boom of the last 25 years absolutely destroyed the quality of the night sky, and I don't see it getting any better unless there is a severe energy crisis that hits the avg American's wallet. Even one of the few remaining dark sky sites in the North East is now being threatened by a proposed wind farm.

Re:Only a severe energy crisis would make a dent (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524005)

"Even one of the few remaining dark sky sites in the North East is now being threatened [sic] by a proposed wind farm."

You HAVE to be kidding. So now we can't have cheap, clean, renewable energy sources... since if we do so some people won't be able to see a few stars?

This BANANA at it's finest.

Re:Only a severe energy crisis would make a dent (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524271)

You HAVE to be kidding. So now we can't have cheap, clean, renewable energy sources... since if we do so some people won't be able to see a few stars?

Go ahead and build them in suburbia. The few remaining pristine forests in this country should be spared from the juggernaut of sprawl.

Light Terrorists... (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523831)

...are right behind Global Thermonuclear War and Higher Taxes on my list of reasons why we'll never get flying cars.

s/Freedom/Security/g (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523837)

People want to have brightly lit everything, since w/o lights, instantly you will be robbed, raped, and murdered. Blame the soccer mom mentality.

I live in Belgium (1)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523879)

What is the Milky Way?

Re:I live in Belgium (1)

Mouthless Wolf (1153783) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523899)

I dono, lols. Sounds like a good name for a candy bar though.

Re:I live in Belgium (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20524021)

For those who don't know what he's referring to: Belgium illuminates its highways at night.

Re:I live in Belgium (1)

Kattspya (994189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524119)

Our galaxy is called the Milky Way in English.

Re:I live in Belgium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20524371)

What is the Milky Way?
Of course you euro bumbkins wouldn't know shit from shite. It's a chocolate bar, with gooy stuff inside. Ever heard of "Snickers"? Get those - it's much better and "satisfying".

Euro trashes...

My reply... (-1, Troll)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523889)

So?

If the cops find you with too many flashlights/LED (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523893)

They will assume you are a black market light dealer and seize all your cash and/or spare bulbs.

Out with the lights! (1)

kdcttg (980465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523921)

Where I live it is a good night if I manage to see 6 stars in the sky at night, when I go to Wales where my grandparents have a house in the mountains, away from street lights and big buildings, I can see thousands. It just shows how much of a difference it makes whether or not we turn the lights off. I seriously see little point in always-on streetlights, we not have streetlights that come on when someone is there, and stay off otherwise. Sure it will be like those horror films where the lights are turning off behind you as you run down the road, but we will atleast see stars in the sky!

In Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523929)

I spent last winter in Iraq. (I'm a US Marine) Having spent my entire life in suburbs, I was blown away by how many stars I could see at night when I was in the open desert. The most amazing thing was being able to observe the Milky Way. When I used my night-vission-googles, I could see at least ten times as many stars.

Re:In Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20524165)

Somewhere in Iraq, a Marine platoon got ambushed because their watch was stargazing at his post.

Ascension Island (4, Interesting)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523931)

The darkest - best sky I have ever seen - in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean its pretty dark !
I remember how easy it was to see all the space junk flying overhead - and some nebula's and galaxy's
could be discerned with the un-aided eye.. Too cool. Light pollution sucks...

the war on what? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20523967)

those muslim fucks are forcing people into their religion, murdering resisters and non-believers.
 
fuck islam, fuck allah, fuck mohammad!
 
down with the lies of islam. end the tyranny of this shit sucking liars religion.
 
boycott all products that come from militant islamic countries. drag them down and bury those fucks alive.

Windows comes to the rescue (4, Funny)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20523973)

All we need to do is install more power stations with Windows and the viruses will do the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/08/14/power.outage/ [cnn.com]

No power, no light pollution

Not just light causing a problem (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524013)

In much of North America, the moisture in the sky causes a white high altitude fog as soon as the sun goes down, so light or no light, you can't see much of anything anyway, even when you are in the middle of nowhere, of which there actually is quite a lot of around here - it's a big place. So don't blame the white night sky on all the street lights - take a drive out of the city and look up, chances are that you'll still see nothing.

Re:Not just light causing a problem (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524311)

In much of North America, the moisture in the sky causes a white high altitude fog as soon as the sun goes down, so light or no light, you can't see much of anything anyway, even when you are in the middle of nowhere, of which there actually is quite a lot of around here - it's a big place. So don't blame the white night sky on all the street lights - take a drive out of the city and look up, chances are that you'll still see nothing.
When you go out into the countryside, you have to wait for your eyes to adjust before you will see the stars. It takes 15-30 minutes [telescopes.com] for night vision to really set in, and when it does, you will see a remarkably starry sky, provided it is not cloudy. I'll assume that you didn't mean "clouds" by saying "white high altitude fog," since to say "you can't see the stars if it is cloudy" is as impressive as saying "you will get wet if you stand in the rain." If you mean something else, I'd be interested in the source of your information.

bright light! bright light! (1)

nothingtodo (641861) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524035)

I live in a neighborhood less than 10 years old and the streetlights are the older type that distribute light in just about every direction. There's a newer section down the street using a newer lightpost style that directs the light downward and it's much better. The area is darker at night which is how it should be instead of it looking like early morning all the time. I just wish out lightposts could be updated to the new style. Ive driven to the coast to some undeveloped beaches and it's amazing to see the difference compared to a populated area at night. At the coast, the sky is so dark that you can see stars easily and sometimes you can't even see where are you walking because it's so dark. I wish cities would put more efford into preventing light pollution. Why must entire empty parking lots be lit up?

"Pollution"? (2, Interesting)

intx13 (808988) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524043)

While I do understand the desire to see the night sky better, I'm not sure that this is "pollution" per se. Pollution (at least as defined by Merriam-Webster) implies contamination - light does not contaminate. Where we to just turn off all the lights and wait a few femtoseconds the night sky would be as dark as pitch. This isn't about pollution (which is something that does actually need fighting), but rather someone saying "Gee, I wish I could see the night sky better." Fair enough, and so do I, but I'm not willing to give up street lights to get it.

Of course, when it comes to someone opening up their cell phone during a movie... roll out the tanks, let the war begin! :)

Re:"Pollution"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20524303)

That's splitting hairs a little - 'light pollution' is the accepted term for the concept whether or not it's semantically justified. And whatever you call it, it's still causing problems.

Plus light only travels approximately 0.0003mm in a femtosecond, so you'd probably have to give it a while longer than that. :P

Damn lights (1)

Crimson Wing (980223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524053)

Just last night I was outside at 9:30 (I live on the outskirts of a small city in NC), and it hit me just how damn much light pollution there is. To the southwest, it actually looked like nighttime, but to the northeast, towards downtown, it still looked like twilight.

At some point in my life, I'm gonna find a place to live that's 50 miles from anywhere, so I can sit on my own porch and still get a decent view of the night sky.

Re:Damn lights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20524235)

Come on out to Nebraska....
The only thing within 50 miles of you would be a cornfield. OOPS forgot about the ethanol plants, the grain elevators, and the rednecks 4WD vehicles with their deer hunting spotlights illuminating the peaceful darkness.

Re:Damn lights (2, Insightful)

Criterion (51515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524251)

Oh man, I am so with you friend. I moved a few miles out of town, and the sky is a bit better out here, but the skyglow creeps ever nearer. I really can't help but wonder if anyone that has posted a negative remark about this article has ever beheld a truly dark sky... though I would guess any negative remark comes from those who haven't read the article, and have no past education about the issue.

Re:Damn lights (1)

Crimson Wing (980223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524339)

I really can't help but wonder if anyone that has posted a negative remark about this article has ever beheld a truly dark sky...
Agreed. Somehow, I doubt it.

harken back to the days of (2, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524075)

PUT THAT LIGHT OUT! (ww2)

This was done of course to make cities difficult to spot from the air, aiding enemy bombers navigate to (or identify) their target. When you think about how hard it is to get 30,000 people to cooperate on anything, it's a wonder that was even worth the effort of trying.

It's also about saving money on electricity. (1)

Chalex (71702) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524085)

While the goal of "saving the darkness" seems to be the focus, the real impetus is the energy savings. There's no point in installing light fixtures that direct half of their light up into the sky. You can save considerable amounts of money by putting a reflective cap on top of the light and then using a smaller light bulb.

Some of the first light pollution legislation in Tuscon, AZ, mandated that the light could not be seen from an angle of 30 degrees above the horizontal.

The greatest marvel you'll ever see (0)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524087)

in the whole world, is to be in a place where you can see the whole universe. Makes you realize how insignificant you are in the big picture.

Re:The greatest marvel you'll ever see (1)

Kiuas (1084567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524321)

I agree. I can see it from my yard on most cloudless nights during autumn and winter. It's truly amaizing. You will understand your place in the universe only after you have spent 3-4 hours just staring at the stars and satellites, they make our little problems seem so ridiculous.

It's kinda ironic however: While you worry about saving the darkness, I'm happy I have even ten hours of daylight during midwinter. In the most norther regions of Finland people can live many weeks in constant polar night. [wikipedia.org]

Welcome to America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20524225)

We've declared war on light!

Build observatories in North Korea (2, Interesting)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524285)

Have you *seen* the lack of light pollution there?

When I was a kid. (1)

chiko87 (907176) | more than 6 years ago | (#20524329)

Just a quick comment. When I was in high school I would go to my grandmother's house on Flathead Lake, Montana,in the summer. I was always amazed at all the stars. Especially coming from Seattle, where just seeing any stars was a bonus.
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