NELPAG Circular No. 10
NELPAG Circular No. 10 1995 January 18
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 .harvard.edu)
Secretary: Eric Johansson (telephone 508-667-0137)
"Subscription" to this irregular news/information Circular is available by
sending self-addressed, stamped (32 cents in the U.S.A.) regular-sized
(9.5x4-inch) envelopes (SASE) to Dan Green at his postal address, or by
sending your e-mail address to NELPAG-REQUEST@YEEHAH.MERK.COM (Internet).
Contributed information for this Circular concerning outdoor lighting problems
in New England (or pertinent info from outside New England) are always welcome.
Please circulate this newsletter to all interested parties.
JOINT IDA/S&T/NELPAG MEETING ON 1994 OCTOBER 22
The October 22 meeting in Kennebunkport, Maine, saw about 30 people
attend to hear a wide range of talks about the problems of outdoor night
lighting. Three people drove all the way from Montreal for the meeting,
the furthest distance of any attendants. Perhaps the biggest news item
released at the meeting was the mention by Bob Wylie that the city of Boston
(largest city in New England) has decided to go to full-cutoff lighting
fixtures for its street illumination. Boston's sister city, Cambridge, has
quietly changed over to full-cutoff lighting of its streets during the past
This was the third annual meeting on light-pollution issues, hosted
jointly by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) and Sky & Telescope
magazine. The meeting had been organized by the New England Light Pollution
Advisory Group (NELPAG) and was hosted locally by Peter Talmage. There was a
wide spectrum of speakers, ranging from amateur and professional astronomers
to lighting engineers and power-company representatives. David Crawford,
IDA President and an astronomer at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson,
spoke about the slow-but-steady increase in IDA membership in recent months
and years. It was suggested (and approved) that NELPAG plan a meeting for
Stellafane next July, which may be our big annual meeting for 1995.
Lighting ordinances around Kennebunkport, which has become a model
for such successful legislation at the town level, were discussed by Talmage,
who also outlined the state-wide Maine bill (enacted in 1992), which mandates
that all new and replacement lighting using state funds must be full-cutoff
fixtures (meaning lights that basically only emit light below a horizonal
level). Copies of outdoor-lighting ordinance wording in various
cities and towns in Maine were handed out to people attending the meeting,
including ordinances and by-laws for Yarmouth, Portland, Wayne, Scarborough,
Falmouth, Freeport, Gorham, Kennebunkport, and also for Hanover, NH.
Talmage noted that proper lighting improves the "character" of small towns,
which may be appealing to many who haven't given this idea previous thought.
Other lighting consultants who helped spread light on various outdoor
illumination problems were Bob Wylie (longtime employee of Sylvania lighting
in Danvers, Mass.) and James Stockman (who advises nationwide on issues
ranging from building and parking-lot lighting to sports-complex illumination).
Stockman noted the vagueness of many lighting statements in city and town
ordinances. In fact, in comments concerning a CIE draft on obtrusive light
written last August 4, Wylie notes: "Many municipalities and States
(Provinces) in the U.S.A. and Canada have enacted laws which are not
enforceable. These restrictions are frequently the result of non-professional
interpretation of zoning restrictions in other areas."
Len Noyes of the Central Maine Power Co. noted that utility companies and
lighting engineers alike are having to really take note of a real change now
taking place in the outdoor-lighting process, whereby people are becoming more
vocal about glare issues and laws are being enacted to encourage more
thoughtful lighting practices. His company is stocking up on full-cutoff
Stockman displayed some interesting newly-manufactured lighting fixtures,
both good ones and bad; he added that, unfortunately, many people's
"psychology" is such that "if you see a light that's bright, it's doing
its job". This way of thinking needs to be addressed carefully when
educating the public, policy makers, and people in the lighting industry.
Daniel Green (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory)
and Stephen O'Meara (Sky & Telescope) spoke about the NELPAG's extensive
efforts to produce a brochure for nationwide distribution entitled "Good
Neighbor Outdoor Lighting". Begun largely by Talmage, this brochure has
gone through several editions, and there was discussion about how to pay
for printing and distributing the final version (no solution was reached).
The brochure is aimed at the general public, in that it defines the problem
(with illustrations) of glare and obstrusive light, and it discusses how
properly shielded lights with appropriate wattage can make huge savings in
electrical costs over time. Where the brochure will really help is its
listing of good, full-cutoff lighting fixtures for all types of outdoor
applications, along with the address and phone numbers of the manufacturers.
Talmage produced a "latest version" of the brochure, and copies can be
obtained from Dan Green at the address above by sending one SASE for this
purpose. The ultimate goal is to have this brochure available widely for free
distribution at home-improvement and hardward stores, to town and city
governments, and to general contractors.
Green also remarked on the increasing volume of mail he is receiving
as Editor of the NELPAG Circulars (and as an unofficial IDA contact
for the northeastern U.S.). One of the issues he dealt with in the past
year included advising individuals in Vermont concerned with the implementation
of lighting at ski areas in that state. An interesting report, which we
have a copy of, was submitted to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
(part of the state government) in April 1994, entitled "A Report on Ski
Area Lighting in Vermont". The report, prepared by Land-Works, Landscape
Architects and Planners, of Middlebury, VT, contains 44 pages of single-spaced
text that discusses sky glow, concerns in Vermont, public participation,
a skiers' poll of night skiing, a poll of both Vermont residents and
visitors on night skiing, policy recommendations, and a survey of ski
areas around the U.S. with night lighting (with an interesting statistical
Arthur R. Upgren of Van Vleck Observatory in Connecticut described how
he was able to get the outdoor lights on the campus of Wesleyan University
vastly improved via full-cutoff fixtures. Alan Davenport painted a more
grim picture of lighting at the University of Maine, Orono.
After dinner, a caravan of cars was led by Talmage on a tour of the
Kennebunks region to look at the extensive efforts done by the local group
in improving the outdoor lighting. With Stockman using his light meter to
show meeting participants how useful light extends outward from directly
below a given light fixture, it was quite educational. --- D.G.
NEW HUBBELL LIGHT FIXTURE AND RETROFIT SHIELD
While reading the last IDA Newsletter, I came across the mention of a
new, fully-shielded, dawn-to-dusk "security" light fixture manufactured by
Hubbell Lighting. Being one who likes to check everything out first-hand,
I called my local Hubbell distributor and ordered 5 units. Here's the
The new fixtures are the Nite-To-Lite (TM) Cutoff Series, SKYCAP Package.
They are available as complete fixtures in 100-watt HPS or in 175-watt Mercury
Vapor, and are complete with Die-Cast Aluminum NEMA Head, 24-inch Aluminum
Mounting Arm including Mounting Hardware, Photo control, Lamp and Parabolic
Aluminum Reflector with Latches. This fixture is a true, fully-shielded unit
with NO light shining above the horizontal. The light distribution
is a type-V or in a full circle. This fixture is a variation on their
standard Nite-To-Lite (TM) Luminaire with cylindrical refractor (Barn Beacon),
which is available in 70-watt HPS, so the Cutoff version might also come
in 70-watt HPS or even lower wattage. I'm looking into this.
The reflector itself is available as a separate item and will fit any
true NEMA head. This means that if you have a neighbor with a typical
175-watt mercury yard light on their garage, you might be able to covert the
light for him at very little cost. How could he refuse an offer to almost
double the light on the ground while greatly reducing the veiling glare of
the original unit? The catch is that this cut-off reflector will only fit
on true NEMA-dimension heads which typically have spring clips to hold on
the refractor assembly. It might be possible to adapt it to fit units with
a refractor that is held on by screws, but this couldn't be guaranteed. The
solution in that case would be to offer a totally-new head with new lamp and
all. Using a lower-wattage HPS unit could easily sell it, due to big
The catalogue number for the 100-watt HPS unit is NPU-10S1-BI and its
cost is about $95. The catalogue number for the 175-watt HPS unit is
NPU-17C1-BI and its cost is about $85. The catalogue number for the reflector
only is NPU-BI and its cost is about $25. If anyone is interested in getting
one of the reflectors, I can ship one for $30. Drop a note and check to
me at P.O. Box 497A, Kennebunkport, ME 04046, U.S.A. --- Peter Talmage
NELPAG's list of Circular subscribers continues to rise steadily. Due
to e-mail distribution (and electronic bulletin-board posting) and to mention
of NELPAG activities in places like Sky & Telescope magazine and the IDA
Newsletter, we have been getting requests for information from across the
United States and around the world. Interest in fighting light pollution
seems to be growing rapidly. Let us hope that more active and dedicated
individuals and groups will join forces rapidly to make a real impact on
replacing poor lighting with good lighting.
Here are some remarks from a typical letter:
"The great problem of light pollution is dramatically increasing all
around the world. But, in France, a new problem, correlated with light
pollution, appeared recently with the new equipment of several night-clubs.
In fact, those night-clubs follow a new fashion which [involves illuminating]
the sky using some very powerful laser-like floodlights, with pointed
directions either fixed or mobile. With this new kind of light pollution,
plus the old ones, the sky is becoming completely unobservable even far from
big cities. For example, the Societe Astronomique de Bourgogne has just
seen its observatory, equiped with a 300-mm Newtonian telescope and situated
on a hill [some] 10 km from the center of the city of Dijon, becoming no
longer usable [because of the combination of] the classical light pollution
from the agglomeration of Dijon and this new "night-club light pollution".
Even another observing site, postponed from any classical light pollution
source and situated higher, [some] 35 km from Dijon, has reached recently
the same kind of problem with this new kind of light pollution, some
itinerant night-clubs, quite frequent in rural France, using now the same
kinds of floodlights. This problem is now becoming one of the most
important we have and can easily explain this letter."
--- Christian Nitschelm (4, rue Chancelier de l'Hospital;
21000 Dijon; France)
And here are parts of a letter (dated 1994 Oct. 2) in which is argued
that while it is admirable to attack highway and street lighting, the
problem of private outdoor lighting is growing so bad so rapidly that it
cannot be avoided:
"... I am enclosing a double-snapshot taken in the Lansing, Michigan,
area's largest chain hardware store (Builders' Square), and also a current
advertisement from the largest chain department store (Meijer) [these are
both reproduced here, below and at the top of p. 4 --- Ed.]. Together, they
illustrate what is readily available in this area for the general population
to choose from. (I assume the situation is not much different elsewhere.)
If you were to hunt around here for some kind of shield to cover the most
typically available mercury and high-pressure-sodium lamps, you would
discover that none exist [though see the item by Talmage, above, and items
in previous versions of the NELPAG Circular --- Ed.]. The salesman at one
electric supply outlet merely suggests that a person purchase a metal garbage
can, saw it off near the bottom, and build a makeshift shield from it. ...
"Certainly in addition to the "Good Neighbor Outdoor Lighting"
booklet, what we all need is some kind of instruction packet detailing
a step-by-step technique to approach the lawmakers and the like in regard to
our concerns. ... [he then spends a full typewritten page talking about
the problems and issues concerning private home outdoor lighting...]
"As you can see, most of my comments in this letter pertain to private
outdoor lighting. This in no way implies a lack of concern over the ruinous
lighting produced by industry, city street lights, and the like. Still, this
letter reflects my worry over the migration of town-people into rural areas ---
and, with such migration, the proliferation of bad outdoor lighting. The
situation (for the near future anyway) is only going to get worse. This means
that pretty soon (if things are allowed to continue as they are) there
will be no rural areas in much of the country to do astronomy. In short,
the problem NOW has more to do with private outdoor lighting than
anything else. Still, there are things that can be done. But everyone
must act fast! Maybe --- just maybe --- there is hope yet!"
--- Denny Nichols (2835 Gale Rd.; Eaton Rapids, MI 48827; USA)
Enclosure [postal mail only]: copy of news notes from USA Today on
outdoor lighting problems; copy of CEE News article on tennis-court lighting
(plus the two figures from Nichols' letter)
NOTE CONCERNING POSTAGE INCREASE
For those subscribers by mail, domestic U.S. postage rates increased
from 29 to 32 cents on 1995 January 1, leaving me with lots of under-paid
envelopes! I'll absorb this cost for now, but please note the increase when
you send new envelopes! [I wished I had gotten this out before Jan. 1,
with the news of the Kennebunkport meeting now nearly 3 months old, but I
left the week after that meeting to view the solar eclipse in Bolivia, and
things remained hectic through the end of the year after my return in
November.] --- D.G.
NOTE: When sending SASEs to Dan for your subscription to the printed NELPAG
Circular, please write the Circular number on the back of the envelope; he's
losing track of who's getting which issue! So, if you've run out after
receiving this particular issue (No. 10), send three more SASEs, and number
them 11, 12, and 13 on the back side; if this is your last envelope on
file, Dan has written "last envelope" on the back side of it.
NOTE also that we are working on an idea to construct a NELPAG "home page"
on the World Wide Web, which would contain past and current NELPAG Circulars,
as well as other items of interest concerning outdoor lighting.
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).