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Protecting our Dark Skies

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damian noble10/06/2016 15:54:31
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167 forum posts
15 photos

Hi all,

I am posting this as a plea for help from all members of this forum and hope it is in the right section.

Being an amateur astronomer, amongst my other hobbies, I travel the country in search of somewhere to set up and observe the heavens. Understandably for this the darker the sky is the better the views.

This is becoming increasingly difficult with more and more light pollution encroaching into our night skies and destroying what is a fantastic pass time. Admittedly it is not a hobby for all, but give's me and many others a lot of joy and covers many things from making scope's to actually using them.

Light pollution and it's effects are not just the blight of astronomers but have far reaching implications on human health and the natural world which are well documented and available to read on the internet (I do not wish to go into great detail in this post).

I have been made aware of a petition to introduce some legislation to curb the use of inappropriate lighting installations.

The petition can be found here. If you do sign you will receive an email which you have to respond to for the signature to go through. It is a government website and you won't receive any spam by doing this.

**LINK**

The campaign for dark skies (CfDS) goes into detail about how lighting should be done far better than I can but it does not mean we need to or should turn off lighting rather employ it better and where it needs to be.

I do not want to cause offence to anyone by raising this or make this political in any sense or form it is up to the individual.

Please give your support and many thanks

Damian

duncan webster10/06/2016 16:37:05
3947 forum posts
63 photos

Our council just replaced a lot of the old street lights with LEDs. I'm usually a cynic on these things, but these lights are very good indeed, a lot less light scatter and a fiar bit less electricity. Now if they would only turn them off in the early hours they would save even more.

damian noble10/06/2016 17:03:13
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167 forum posts
15 photos
Posted by duncan webster on 10/06/2016 16:37:05:

Our council just replaced a lot of the old street lights with LEDs. I'm usually a cynic on these things, but these lights are very good indeed, a lot less light scatter and a fiar bit less electricity. Now if they would only turn them off in the early hours they would save even more.

Hi Duncan thanks for replying.

The LED's are better in quite a few ways but in other respect's they are worse. I will agree they are better shielded and more directional. The jury about them is still out.

I have them on my street and for me they are better. They don't have to turn them off completely as they can be dimmed so there are solutions.

SillyOldDuffer10/06/2016 17:22:01
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8516 forum posts
1915 photos

Hi Damien,

I live in the country about 15 miles south of a big city with lots of old fashioned sodium. My northern sky glows bright yellow and all but the very brightest stars are hidden in the murk. The southern sky is massively better. I wish more people could see the contrast: town dwellers lose so much. There's a lot going on up there!

I was number 5605.

Good luck,

Dave

damian noble10/06/2016 17:48:48
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167 forum posts
15 photos
Its lost to some people and as you say they just wont see the heavens as they should be. I just hope it gets to the point where it is discussed.
Many thanks for signing it.

Edited By damian noble on 10/06/2016 17:51:23

Edited By damian noble on 10/06/2016 17:51:35

V8Eng10/06/2016 19:44:36
1697 forum posts
1 photos

Signed it, the Wife has as well.

Last time I saw a 'proper' night sky was in Malta about 20 years ago, which reminded me of when I was a kid living in London, light pollution was much less of an issue then

The smogs stopped us seeing the stars, or pretty much anything else though. sad

Edited By V8Eng on 10/06/2016 20:12:52

Steve Pavey10/06/2016 19:56:55
361 forum posts
41 photos

It wasn't until I went to Australia a couple of years ago that I really appreciated just how manymstars there are up there. We stayed at a farm about 300 km inland from Perth, and apart from the farm buildings and a grain silo about 4 km away there were no other buildings in sight, and certainly no street lights! The night sky was absolutely breathtaking - a mass of stars from one horizon to the other, and like nothing I have ever seen in this country.

Bernard Wright10/06/2016 20:10:36
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90 forum posts
16 photos

Went on holiday to Knowstone in Devon, was late back to the cottage one night, and was flabbergasted to see so many stars, just walking from the car park to the cottage, needed the use of a torch, it was pitch blackness..

Bernard

damian noble10/06/2016 20:29:40
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167 forum posts
15 photos
Many thanks for the stories guys of which I can say I'm envious of.
I also thank everyone for their support and for signing.
As a youngster my dad would point out the constellations whilst we were sea fishing and the skies were much darker then.
Memorable as you all say.
Neil Wyatt10/06/2016 21:49:34
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Moderator
18994 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

Exmoor is probably the best sky I have ever seen, although in 1984 I camped several miles inland from Harlech, the stars were reflected in the lake and you could read by starlight alone.

Where I am now, I can't even see all the stars in Cassiopiea when it is in the yellow murk to the north-east. Later in the year I can see a trace of the milky way straight up, but the sky gets poorer as you come lower down, except to the west ... where there is a woodland next to the garden!

Neil

Cyril Bonnett10/06/2016 22:38:13
244 forum posts
1 photos

Back in the late 70's I lived on the edge of Rannoch Moor, the stars on a winters night were amazing, the Northern Lights produced some spectacular displays as well.

 it was so dark on cloudy nights that the only way to stay on the road was one foot on the tar and the other on the grass, never took a torch with me!, sad to say by the time I left there in the early 90's security and spot lights had spoilt it.

 

Edited By Cyril Bonnett on 10/06/2016 22:42:47

Bob Stevenson10/06/2016 23:45:48
579 forum posts
7 photos

I can never forget my utter amazment at looking up at the milky way when down in Cornwall........like a ragged net cutain of light with holes and tears...wonderful and astonishing but not seen it for about 40 years.........

.............Along with standing in my mum's garden and watchng the lilac blossom covered in giant red admiral butterflys. The trouble is it's only us old geezers who have lost these things.....if you never saw it it never existed!

damian noble11/06/2016 01:05:08
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167 forum posts
15 photos
Its good to hear all the fantastic stories of our skies.
We are fast losing them and the amount of views this thread has already generated it seems to be close to the hearts of many.
I thank all for reading and adding to the petition.
hth11/06/2016 10:03:10
93 forum posts
22 photos

I was down at the Southern tip of Tasmania in 1974, the sky at night was breathtaking, the clarity , stars and the whole massive universe . Never seen anything like it since .

Geoff Theasby11/06/2016 11:33:31
613 forum posts
17 photos

I have been promoting CfDS for years. I have essentially given up practical observing, as the light pollution is so bad here, with Sheffield to my immediate South and West. I find the Android smartphone app, Night Sky Pro very good for planet and satellite spotting. The ISS has its own tracking app.

Visiting the Yorkshire Dales and staying in deepest Wharfedale, we emerged from the pub one night to find with a real shock that the night sky was ablaze. There were stars right down to the horizon in their thousands. Not even a solitary streetlamp to spoil it.

Badly designed streetlights etc., wasted power and light by allowing illumination to go upwards, rather than down, what earthly use is this? The colour and type of bulbs also varied, as noted above.

Regards

Geoff

Brian John11/06/2016 11:54:02
1484 forum posts
582 photos

I have seen some roads (I forget where) that have lights that are sensitive to movement. In the early hours when there are no cars they are all off but when a car approaches then they come on for about ten seconds before turning themselves off again....a very clever idea.

Ian S C11/06/2016 13:01:54
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7468 forum posts
230 photos

In 2009 at Lake Tekapo (round about the middle of the South Island NZ), a "starlight reserve" has been established, By UNESCO, it is a world first. All lighting, private and public is restricted, over a wide area. This is the area where the Mt John observatory is situated. NASA also has its Boing 747 with its telescope operating out of Christchurch airport at the moment, it was here last year also, I think it is known as SOFIA (or something similar). Ian S C

Ajohnw11/06/2016 13:33:54
3631 forum posts
160 photos
Posted by duncan webster on 10/06/2016 16:37:05:

Our council just replaced a lot of the old street lights with LEDs. I'm usually a cynic on these things, but these lights are very good indeed, a lot less light scatter and a fiar bit less electricity. Now if they would only turn them off in the early hours they would save even more.

I wouldn't be at all sure about less electricity Duncan. I found an early article on council's use of LED lighting on the IEEE site some time ago. Wish I still could. It pointed out 2 things.

Some councils were fitting high CRI lighting. This decreases the efficiency markedly. This is largely down to the blue light that they have to emit. Our eyes are not very sensitive to it so it need rather a lot of it to get good colour rendition. Actually it needs more colours than the usual 3 as well for that so stacks of blue isn't really a good fix.

They also seemed to state that no current lighting system is as efficient as low pressure sodium which is / was what many councils were using. Some had switched to high pressure sodium which in efficiency terms is no where near as good.

From an astronomers point of view low pressure sodium is great. In fact they are retaining it around observatories and her is why.

A very simple filter will remove it completely. I managed to buy one a long time ago that just removed that and nothing else. Went back to buy a 2" version and was told that they were no longer available. The replacements remove all sorts of colours but can't cope with modern lighting. With the filter on the yellow glow just disappears completely and it's like being under dead black skies. Nebulosity etc can be seen easily. Polution, largely high mist is still a problem in recent years.

I might post a potted history of street lighting shortly. It is worth people thinking about it as it costs us all money.

John

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damian noble11/06/2016 13:41:44
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167 forum posts
15 photos
Posted by Geoff Theasby on 11/06/2016 11:33:31:

I have been promoting CfDS for years. I have essentially given up practical observing, as the light pollution is so bad here, with Sheffield to my immediate South and West. I find the Android smartphone app, Night Sky Pro very good for planet and satellite spotting. The ISS has its own tracking app.

Visiting the Yorkshire Dales and staying in deepest Wharfedale, we emerged from the pub one night to find with a real shock that the night sky was ablaze. There were stars right down to the horizon in their thousands. Not even a solitary streetlamp to spoil it.

Badly designed streetlights etc., wasted power and light by allowing illumination to go upwards, rather than down, what earthly use is this? The colour and type of bulbs also varied, as noted above.

Regards

Geoff

Hi Geoff,

I have Sheffield to the south east from my usual viewing location and it is a big light dome. I travel to Galloway and Sutton bank quite regularly, although the vale of York has lots of pollution the eastern views are great.

The CfDS does not seem to be well promoted especially by the BAA? I just can't understand it

Geoff Theasby11/06/2016 13:57:06
613 forum posts
17 photos

The BAA was heavily involved in CfDS, but I haven't checked it lately. I did find this, though http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/pdfs/CfDS_guidelines.pdf

Geoff

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