NELPAG Circular No. 2

NELPAG Circular No. 2                                     1993 December 22

New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (NELPAG)
Editor:     Daniel W. E. Green [Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory;
               60 Garden Street; Cambridge, MA  02138]  (telephone 617-495-7440)
               e-mail:  green@cfa (.bitnet, .span, or
Secretary:  Eric Johansson     (telephone 508-667-0137)
               email:  or

     "Subscription" to this irregular news/information Circular is available by
sending three self-addressed, self-stamped (29-cent) regular-sized (9.5x4-inch)
envelopes (SASE) to Dan Green at his postal address, or by sending your e-mail
address to either Dan or Eric using the e-mail addresses above.  Sections in
this Circular are written by Dan (D.G.) or Eric (E.J.) unless noted otherwise.
     NOTE:  NELPAG Circular No. 1 was the letter dated 1993 October 18 and
addressed to all current International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Members
throughout New England.  It described the background behind the planned
November 6 meeting (which was scheduled during the light-pollution conference
that was sponsored by Sky and Telescope magazine and held on October 2 at the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge) and encouraged
interested individuals to attend that meeting.  -- D.G.

     Just to re-cap the October 2nd meeting, which was held here at Harvard
College Observatory on the same weekend that the professional lighting engineers
(IES) were meeting in nearby Salem, MA, there were about 30 people in
attendance, mostly from the New England states (plus two from Arizona, three
from New York, and one from New Jersey).  Less than a dozen of these same
people showed up at the Monday afternoon IES session on light pollution. -- D.G.

     For comparison, we had about 18 dedicated people show up at the inaugural
NELPAG meeting on November 6, representing all of the New England states except
Connecticut.  The chairs in Phillips Auditorium were moved into a large circle
for open discussion, and this worked quite well.  The name "NELPAG" was accepted
by vote after discussion.  The topic of dues was raised, but the general con-
sensus was that there should be no dues, and that there could be informal con-
tribution for things such as snacks and coffee/tea for NELPAG meetings.  (There
is no charge for use of the meeting rooms at Harvard Observatory, and the cost
of communication is eliminated by use of e-mail or self-addressed, self-stamped
envelopes.)  It was announced that the Dark Sky Bill had been re-introduced in
the Massachusetts state legislature on Nov. 3, this time with about half a
dozen co-sponsors; it could use more co-sponsors to help passage, and all
Massachusetts people are encouraged to contact their state senator and/or re-
presentative to ask them to co-sponsor the bill.  There will be another hearing
for this bill at the state house in the spring of 1994, and amendments can be
added to the bill (which had been developed using wording recommended by Dave
Crawford, IDA) at that time; the general feeling at this Nov. 6 meeting was
that stronger wording was definitely needed.  The actual wording is provided
later in this Circular.
     Mario Motta suggested that "working groups" or committees be established
to work on specific problems, and the following NELPAG working groups were
established:  lighting fixtures (Bob Wylie, Chair); power utilities (Dan
Green, Chair); city/town recommended bylaws package (Mario Motta, Chair).
Motta's group will meet in January in the Boston area, prior to the regional
NELPAG meeting (see below), to put together suggested amendments to the
Massachusetts bill and to work on a standard wording for town constitutions.
Bob Wylie (who is also Chairman of the Obtrusive Light Committee and Roadway
Lighting Committee of the professional lighting engineer group IESNA) was to
produce a small several-page pamphlet of companies that sell good outdoor
lighting fixtures (presumably with illustrations).
     It was mentioned that each state within New England should organize a
local group to have more frequent local meetings in which people can work on
light pollution problems together.  Mario Motta asked for volunteers for those
states represented at the meeting, with the following Chairs for state groups
chosen:  MA, Mario Motta (617-334-3648); RI, Bill Gucfa (1101 Roosevelt Ave.,
Pawtucket, RI  02861); NH, Marion Hochuli (603-888-0141); VT, Brad Vietje
(802-685-2203); ME, Anthony Dater (207-985-4087).  It was agreed that for most
region-wide meetings, Boston was a good meeting location, in that it is
probably the most accessible site for all New Englanders to reach.  It was also
proposed, however, that local state groups occasionally host a region-wide
NELPAG meeting for the purpose of having out-of-state "recognition" for the
local efforts, for which the media (newspapers, etc.) can be called on for help;
no such meetings have yet been officially planned or scheduled.
     The question was raised as to whether there are any laws in the Dept. of
Motor Vehicles code in Massachusetts (and other New England states) that forbid
glare along roads that could affect driver safety.  Other notes jotted down by
Eric:  (1) Lexington (MA) has lighting bylaws dealing with light trespass, but
they are unenforced.  (2) Any lighting bylaw wording should be quantifiable;
wording like "unreasonable" or "excessive" has made laws unenforceable;
apparently there was a case in Winchester (MA) where a judge tossed out a case
because of the unquantifiable wording.  (3) Get permission from town engineer
before calling local utilities about town lighting; remember, make friends
with the town officials, as they can make it very easy or very difficult to
make change happen.  (4) Beware of "great deals" from utilities; power
companies tend to offer fixtures that are expensive to run, spread light all
over the place, and are just too bright; to boot, the deals that they offer
last for a "long" time (15-20 yrs).  (5) Peter Talmage of Maine pointed out
that you need both lighting bylaws and lighting policy; in most towns,
lighting policy is set by the power utilities.  -- D.G. and E.J.

     Officers were elected, with Mario Motta presiding over the open voting.
Without much discussion (or thought), it was quickly decided that Dan Green
would be "president", and that the "central contact/meeting moderator" would
be Eric Johansson.  However, these titles may not be the best titles,
considering the nature of this volunteer group.  I thus propose that I simply
be called the Editor (of the NELPAG Circulars), and that Eric be called the
"NELPAG Secretary"; this should accomplish the same goals and at the same time
give people a more realistic idea of our "positions" within NELPAG, and we can
confirm this proposition at the next meeting of NELPAG on January 29.  -- D.G.

     It was agreed at the November 6 meeting to have a another regional NELPAG
meeting very soon at the Harvard College Observatory at 60 Garden Street in
Cambridge, Massachusetts (in Phillips Auditorium, upper parking lot, between
Garden Street and Concord Ave.).  It was agreed that Saturdays were good, but
that mornings would be better than afternoons.  With this in mind, we chose
Saturday, January 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon as the time for the next full
NELPAG meeting.  We hear that Massachusetts State Representative Jim Marzilli
of Arlington will be present to talk about the lighting bill that he has just
re-introduced at the State House in Boston, and what can be done to help it
along (a hearing will be held at the State House in the spring, and we will
discuss this).  In the event of inclement weather (snow!), contact me or Eric
by telephone or e-mail on Friday (or early Saturday) prior to the meeting.
     A local meeting will be held in the Boston area in January sometime
before the larger regional meeting on January 29.  This meeting is being
hosted by Mario Motta and will address the problems of amendments to the
pending Mass. bill and also recommended by-laws for towns and cities.
Contact Dan or Eric or Mario if you would like to attend.  If you cannot
attend but have ideas or suggestions after reading over the enclosed Mass. and
Maine outdoor lighting bills, please send your suggestions to Dan or Eric
within the next two weeks.  -- D.G.

     The bill was re-filed by Rep. Marzilli on Nov. 3, and the wording is the
same as last year's bill (H. 3159), but a new bill number will be assigned:

An Act to Limit Outdoor Night Lighting, Conserve Energy and Reduce Light

Section 1.  Chapter 85, Section 2 of the General Laws is hereby amended by
inserting the following new section:
     "Cities by ordinance and towns by by-law shall introduce a code for the
design and installation of outdoor night lighting, the purpose of which is to
ensure that outdoor night lighting fixtures 1) conserve energy; 2) preserve
the natural night environment; and 3) reduce or eliminate light pollution;
while providing adequate night-time safety, utility, and security; and to
implement this code in the installation of all public lighting fixtures and as
a condition of subdivision and planning approvals."

     "Light Pollution" - General sky glow caused by large numbers
of poorly-designed light sources.
     "Light trespass" - Bothersome local lighting, shining beyond
the intended effective illumination zone that may glare into the
eyes of motorists, home-owners, and others.
     "Outdoor light fixtures" - outdoor artificial illuminating
devices, installed or portable, used for flood-lighting, general
illumination, or advertisement.  Such devices shall include, but
are not limited to, search, spot, flood, and area lighting for:
     a)   buildings and structures;
     b)   recreational facilities;
     c)   parking facilities;
     d)   landscape lighting;
     e)   outdoor advertising displays, billboard, signs;
     f)   public and private street lighting; and
     g)   walkway lighting.

     Policy - It shall be the policy of the Commonwealth and each of its
cities, towns, communities, authorities, and agencies to introduce a code for
the design and installation of outdoor night lighting, the purpose of which is
to ensure that outdoor night lighting fixtures 1) conserve energy; 2) preserve
the natural night environment; and 3) reduce or eliminate light pollution;
while providing adequate night-time safety, utility, and security; and to
implement this code in the installation of all public lighting fixtures and as
a condition of subdivision and planning approvals.
     Purpose and Intent - The purpose of this policy is to ensure that outdoor
lighting does not unreasonably interfere with the reasonable use and enjoyment
of dark-sky activities.  It is the intent of this policy to encourage the
types, kinds, construction, installation, and use of outdoor electrically
powered illuminating devices, lighting practices, and systems which will
conserve energy, while preserving the natural environment and increasing
night-time safety, utility, security, and productivity.

     I suggest that individuals request a Massachusetts Legislative
Directory from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, 24 Province St.,
Boston, MA  02108 (send a self-addressed #10 business envelope with 75 cents
postage) or call 617-720-1000.  This booklet gives names, addresses, and
phone numbers of all Massachusetts legislators and Committee members, along
with an outline of how bills become laws.  Call or write your state Senator
and Representative; ask them to support this bill and request that they
co-sponsor it; thank them for their support.  Members of the Energy Committee
as of last spring were:  Senators Montigny (Bristol), Norton (Bristol),
Berry (Essex), S. P. O'Brien (Hampden and Hampshire), Leahy (Middlesex),
Swift (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire); Representatives Herren
(Fall River), Binienda (Worcester), Gardner (Holliston), Cabral (New Bedford),
Galvin (Canton), Valianti (Marlborough), Marzilli (Arlington), Fagan
(Taunton), Paulsen (Belmont), Gauch (Shrewsbury), Cousins (Newburyport).
   -- Paul Messerschmidt (Energy Innovations Group, 49 Hancock St., Boston, MA
02114-4132; phone 617-695-9875; e-mail

     I got a call from Terry Cline (Sustainable Environments, Peaks Island,
ME) on Dec. 10; he was referred to us by NELPAG member Peter Talmage.
Apparently Terry is involved in a lighting conflict where the lighting
in question is onboard a ferry.  At first the problem didn't seem to be one
we could help with, but some fallout from the ferry lighting does fall in
our domain.  The following retelling of the problem is mostly from memory, so
any mistakes are my fault, but I believe the basic outline is OK.  The current
passenger ferry to Peaks (and other islands) originally had a low (2-ft-candle)
lighting level.  This was not quite enough to read by, so in response to rider
complaints, the ferry company installed really bright (50-ft-candle) 2x4-foot
fluorescent lights in the car/passenger ferry.  The resultant lighting looks
like bad office lighting.  There were plans to build a new passenger ferry with
the same bright lighting, but a few people spoke up and the proposed
70,000-lumens fluorescent lighting was dropped to 42,000 lumens, which is a mix
of incandescent and fluorescent.  The bright ferry interior lighting kills off
all dark adaptation, which left riders stumbling in the dark when they get off
the boat.  So again passengers complained about not being able to see on the
docks, and the ferry company then installed bright lighting on land at the
docks!  Terry indicated that the bright dock lighting may prompt some of the
island towns to add more street lights because ferry passengers think the
roads are too dark.  I sent Terry some info I had on hand to deal with the
dock lighting issues and I'll check the IDA archives for more possibilities.
I also suggested that Terry might consider dealing with the ferry interior
lighting issue from a dark adaptation/glare/safety standpoint (i.e., it's
glare that reduces visibility not just low light levels).  -- E.J.

     "I'm afraid that while I have tried to influence the local owners that be,
it has come to no avail here --- there is no city lighting engineer and the
closest thing to such a person is a zoning official who rules on illuminated
signs and flood/spot-lighting, etc.  When last I phoned his office to register
a complaint about glaring mercury vapor floodlighting filling our bedroom from
a GM car dealership across the street (this is supposed to be a residential
area).  His secretary informed me that 'he did not drive around at night after
work!'  Say what?  Would you believe that this is a typical response from just
about every city department, no matter what the problem, and action is nil ---
but I keep trying and am meeting with a new young representative to discuss
such things."  -- W. Alexander Keith, III, 11/5/93

     "I have been discussing light pollution issues with a business acquaintance
of mine who is sympathetic to our cause, and coincidentally, a legislator in
Connecticut.  Based on my discussions with this individual, I believe that a
regional approach would be beneficial and ultimately more effective than
efforts on a local level."  -- Don Munroe, 12/2/93

     "The town of Lexington is seeking alternatives to converting the town to
standard high-pressure sodium streetlights.  The town's Lighting Options
Committee (of which I am the Chair), with the help of Ripman Lighting
Consultants, has recently completed the design of a demonstration project
involving a range of color-corrected, energy-efficient streetlights.
Installation will occur in the next few months.  Our goal is to identify
light sources that provide good color rendition and good visual acuity,
keep lumen levels close to current levels, and save the town money and
energy.  We are also using various fixtures that shield the light to avoid
glare and light spill.  If other communities are interested in these issues
and want further information about this project, drop me a note.
-- Myla Kabat-Zinn (58 Oak St., Lexington, MA  02173)

     "I live in Watertown.  I've observed that they are installing full
cutoff lights on some main streets (e.g., Mt. Auburn St.).  Cambridge (MA)
seems to have converted most of their lights now:  Mass. Ave. seems to be all
full cutoff.  As far as I can see, Belmont only has four full cutoff lights,
on Common St. in Cushing Square.  My brother-in-law is a manager at Boston
Edison. I asked him about the practice of installing the cutoffs.  He said
that Boston Edison installs either the globe type or the cutoff type based on
the direction of the individual town.  They cost the same, they use the same
power, and Edison has no preference between the two.  When people complain to
Edison about light pollution (this only happens occasionally), he simply sends
them to their town, to have the city fathers direct Edison to remedy the
problem.  Edison loves to follow official orders.  He suggested that I try to
educate the Belmont and Watertown city councils about the need for a general
phaseover to cutoffs."  -- Jerry Burchfiel, 11/29/93

     "I am the Editor of the Electronic Journal of the Astronomical Society
of the Atlantic (EJASA), which is posted each month on the sci.astro,,, and sci.misc USENET newsgroups.  I have been the
EJASA Editor since its founding in August of 1989.  I have a number of articles
regarding light pollution and how to fight it in past issues of the EJASA.
You and your colleagues are most welcome to these and any other EJASA articles
you wish.  I have been using the EJASA as one way to make people aware of the
harm of light pollution and, judging by the mail I have received, it is
working.  David Crawford is a member of my EJASA e-mail distribution list.
All EJASA issues should be available from the ASA anonymous FTP site at (  If you cannot access them please let me know and
I will e-mail the issues you request.  I invite you to place your name and
network address on my EJASA e-mail list, if you wish.  I also extend the offer
to anyone you know who might also be interested."
-- Larry Klaes (, 11/1/93

     There is now an e-mail mailing list for NELPAG members and other interested
parties.  To get on the mailing list, send mail to  with your return e-mail address.  To send mail
to the list, send the e-mail to  and the e-mail will be
distributed automatically.  The only rule for using the list are that users of
the mailing list should not send large files or messages to the mailing list
without checking with me (Eric) first.  Other rules may evolve as the list
grows.  If you are not already on the Internet and you want to be, call me and
I'll help you get connected via some Internet provider in your area.  Thanks to
Rich Brennan (owner of for giving us a home for the NELPAG electronic
mailing list and thanks to Gary Gitzen, for the mailing list software.
     I have not received any comments from folks yet, but I have received
interesting papers from Tony Dater (Kennebunk, ME) and Bob Wylie (Danvers, MA).
Dater has sent us a large set of papers, whose titles are:

(1) Town of Kennebunk (ME) Outdoor Lighting Ordinance (enacted March 28, 1992)
(2) Town of Hollis (ME) Street Light Policy (adopted)
(3) Gardener (ME) lighting bylaws (adopted 1990)
(4) Falmouth (ME) Existing Street Lighting Criteria and options (adopted)
(5) Sanford (ME) street lighting policy (adopted)
(6) Portland (ME) lighting bylaw proposal
(7) Kennebunk Street Light Committee Minority report
(8) Kennebunk Long Term Street Light Policies (draft)
(9) Kennebunk Outdoor Lighting Policies (draft)
(10) Kennebunk Street Light Committee Policy for Street Lights at Private Road
      Intersections (draft)
(11) Kennebunk (ME) lighting point system (draft)
(12) Initial Rated Light Output of Various Lamps (taken from the Sylvania
      #pl-150, G.E. #9200 and Phillips #SG-100 catalogs)
(13) A few pages of sample full cutoff lighting
(14) Memo on the state of existing incandescent platter street lights in other
(15) Talmage Engineering info sheet on 1) full cutoff "Radial Wave" and
      "Admiral's Hat" HPS lighting and 2) quick info on "picking the right
      lighting distributions.
(16) Summary on Main Electric Power Utilities and Outdoor Lighting
(17) Letter from Lawerence Bartlett, lighting consultant for Enterprise
      Engineering to Donald LaPointe of Kennebunk Light and Power district on
      street lighting selection.
(18) A worksheet comparing costs of different street lights in Kennebunk, ME.

Wylie's paper is photocopied and sent to recipients of this Circular by
postal mail.   -- E.J.

     As of December 20, I had 21 people who are receiving this Circular
by SASE, as well as 22 people who are directly receiving this by e-mail.  The
notes written by individuals other than Eric and myself (above) were sent to
me.  The next Circular will probably be prepared after the meeting on
January 29, and we encourage all who have interesting notes to share with
NELPAG to send them to Eric or me by early February.  Please share this
Circular will all interested people.  Good communication is a very
important goal to this cause of ours!  Happy New Year to all.  -- D.G.

ENCLOSURES (by postal mail):
(a)  Maine state outdoor lighting bill (IDA Info Sheet No. 46, 3/92);
(b)  Paper from Bob Wylie entitled "Lighting Equipment Suitability for
     Non-obtrusive Lighting of Outdoor Spaces" with diagrams.


The NELPAG supports the International Dark-Sky Association and recommends
that all individuals/groups who are interested in the problems of light
pollution and obtrusive lighting should subscribe to the IDA Newsletter
(IDA membership costs $20.00 per year; send check to
International Dark-Sky Association, 3545 N. Stewart, Tucson, AZ  85716).