NELPAG Circular No. 11
NELPAG Circular No. 11 1995 February 2
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.
ACTION IN CONNECTICUT
After a prolonged latent period, Connecticut has come to life in the
matter of light-pollution control. A bill (House bill 5092) was introduced,
and on January 31, a hearing on it was held by the house Committee on Energy
and Public Utilities. It reads:
"AN ACT CONCERNING OUTDOOR LIGHTING, ENERGY CONSERVATION AND REDUCTION
OF LIGHT POLLUTION
be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General
That chapter 298 of the general statutes be amended to prohibit the
use of state funds for the installation of a new or replacement outdoor
luminaire unless (1) the luminaire is designed to maximize energy conservation
and to minimize light pollution, glare and light trespass, (2) for a luminaire
with a rated output of more than 1800 lumens, such luminaire is a full cutoff
luminaire, and (3) for roadway illumination, passive lighting, reflective
lighting or other similar means have been fully considered for the lighting
plan or design.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: To promote energy conservation and reduce light
pollution from outdoor luminaires."
The representative who wrote and introduced the bill received input from
a variety of sources, which appeared to include the recent Maine and
Massachusetts statutes. He and IDA members Arthur Upgren and Robert Crelin
testified in support of prompt passage; they followed a spokesman from the
state department of transportation. He had advocated tabling the bill and
cited a study by the DOT that both installation costs and operation costs
would increase by one-third upon passage. Upgren responded with examples from
San Diego and Tucson that substantial savings were realized after a
retrofitting recovery cost period of about three years, and Crelin summarized
benefits to astronomers and the environment. In the ensuing questions and
discussion, it appeared that the committee members raised questions about the
thoroughness of the DOT study, and more information was sought of everyone on
matters of the bottom line.
From the depth and tone of the questions it appeared that light pollution
is at last on the state agenda. Crelin and I were among several IDA members
who had circulated IDA and NELPAG material to their representatives. Once
again, the great value and experience of the IDA was demonstrated to have been
critical in this development, and astronomers around the state will be
encouraged to support it more extensively. We had but one day's notice, thus
few were able to attend, but my contact from the Hartford Courant was present
and is preparing an article on the hearing for the paper.
Later in the same day, I received from my own representative another
light-pollution bill, written by her at my suggestion and much input including
the Maine and Massachusetts statutes and a number of IDA information sheets.
This is proposed bill no. 5303 and reads:
"AN ACT CONCERNING OUTDOOR LIGHTING AND ENERGY SAVINGS.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in
General Assembly convened:
That chapter 298 of the general statutes be amended to require that an
outdoor luminaire installed or replaced with state funds (1) contain
lower-wattage bulbs or shielding which blocks all light emissions above a
horizontal plane through the luminaire's lowest light-emitting part, (2) emit
the minimum illuminence adequate for the intended purpose of the luminaire,
(3) be designed to minimize glare and light trespass and to maximize energy
conservation, and (4) be selected only after passive means of lighting
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: To conserve energy, increase energy savings, decrease
pollution and improve lighting."
This morning (Tuesday February 1) the Hartford Courant ran a story
on this matter but I have not yet read it. The committee wishes more
information on the details of the financial costs and savings involved in
retrofitting highway lights and I hope to obtain them from IDA and NELPAG.
--- Arthur Upgren
STATUS OF MASSACHUSETTS OUTDOOR-LIGHTING BILL
This bill was first filed in 1992 by Rep. Jim Marzilli (D-Arlington)
as H. 3159; a hearing on 1993 March 18 produced testimony from Paul
Messerschmidt and Steve O'Meara (both of the soon-to-be-formed NELPAG).
The same bill was re-filed on 1993 Nov. 3 by Rep. Marzilli as H. 1652.
A second hearing occurred on 1994 March 22, when amended wording to the bill
was submitted by six NELPAG members.
Our bill was re-filed on 1994 Dec. 7 (apparently) by Rep. Marzilli,
co-sponsored by Rep. Pamela Resor (D-Acton) and probably others (there were
five co-sponsors last year, in addition to Marzilli). No new bill number was
available when I spoke to Rep. Resor's aide on February 1, but will be
assigned within the next couple of weeks when it is assigned to committee
(some bureaucratic procedure, I suppose). This same aide told me that the
next step needed is to get a letter-writing campaign going (which we tried to
start last year via NELPAG Circular No. 5), to let state reps know that their
constituents are interested in seeing this bill passed. Letters should be
addressed to Rep. Albert Herren, Chair of the Energy Committee, State House,
Boston, MA 02133, with copies to your own district's representative and
senator (and this fact noted on the original to Rep. Herren). -- D.G.
Here is the wording of the amended form of the Massachusetts bill as submitted
last March 22:
Title: An Act to Improve the Quality of Outdoor Night Lighting to
Conserve Energy, Reduce Light Pollution, and Improve Safety
by Reducing Glare
No state funds shall be used to install any new permanent outdoor luminaire
or to replace an existing permanent outdoor luminaire unless:
A. The new or replacement luminaire is a full-cutoff luminaire when the
rated output of the luminaire is greater than 1,800 lumens;
B. If a lighting recommendation or regulation applies, the minimum
illuminance specified by the recommendation or regulation is used;
C. If no lighting recommendation or regulation applies, the minimum
illuminance adequate for the intended purpose is used, giving full
consideration to energy conservation, glare, and minimizing light
D. For roadway lighting, a determination is made that the purpose
of the lighting installation or replacement can not be achieved by
installation of reflectorized roadway markers, lines, warnings
or informational signs, or other passive means; and
E. Adequate consideration has been given to conserving energy and
minimizing glare, light pollution, and light trespass.
Exceptions from the provisions of this bill are permitted only when:
A. Federal laws, rules and regulations take precedence over these
B. Fire, police, rescue, or repair personnel need light
for temporary emergency situations;
C. There are special requirements, such as sports facilities and monument
or flag lighting; all such lighting shall be selected and installed to
shield the lamp(s) from direct view to the greatest extent possible,
and to minimize upward lighting and light trespass; or
D. A determination has been made, established through an open, public
hearing process, that there is a compelling safety interest that can
not be addressed by any other method.
--- Definitions ---
A. Luminaire means a lighting system, including a lamp or lamps together
with the parts designed to distribute the light, to position and protect
the lamps, and to connect the lamps to the power supply.
B. Lamp means the component of a luminaire that produces the light.
C. Lumen is a specific standard unit of measurement of luminous flux.
D. Full-cutoff luminaire means a luminaire that allows no direct light
from the luminaire above a horizontal plane through the luminaire's
lowest light-emitting part.
E. Direct light means light emitted directly by a lamp, off a reflector,
or through a refractor of a luminaire.
F. Glare means direct light emitted by a luminaire that causes reduced
vision or momentary blindness.
G. Light pollution means general sky glow caused by the scattering of
artificial light in the atmosphere, much of which is caused by
H. Light trespass means light emitted by a luminaire that shines beyond
the boundaries of the property on which the luminaire is located.
I. Outdoor light fixtures means outdoor artificial illuminating devices,
installed or portable, used for flood-lighting, general illumination,
J. Permanent outdoor luminaire means any fixed luminaire or system of
luminaires that is outdoors and that is intended to be used for 7 days
K. State funds means any bond revenues or any money appropriated or
allocated by the Massachusetts Legislature.
L. Roadway lighting means permanent outdoor luminaires that are
specifically intended to illuminate roadways for automotive vehicles.
WORLD WIDE WEB NODE FOR NELPAG
With the wonderful help of Gareth Williams (Smithsonian Observatory),
I have gotten a WWW "Home Page" for the NELPAG up and running. The Home
Page gives an introduction to the NELPAG, and users can "click" on the
amended wording to the Massachusetts bill now pending at the state legislature
in Boston (see above), along with all of the NELPAG Circulars. There is
also a page for the International Dark-Sky Association, which is being
constructed with input from David Crawford in Tucson. The address to our
Home Page is as follows:
SPECIAL ISSUE (NELPAG Circular No. 10a)
A special 37-page NELPAG Circular was issued on Feb. 1 that was entitled
"Package for Writing City and Town Lighting Ordinances". It represents an
early version of the NELPAG's goal of producing a package of material useful
for individuals interesting in writing language for local city ordinances or
town by-laws regarding outdoor lighting. This current version respresents
a compilation by Dan Green, and was constructed as a result of the
rapidly-increasing number of requests asking for the availability of such
material to be available. It should be noted that it is very easy to produce
poor wording for legislation that will make laws hard to enforce; it is for
this reason that this package is available as an early version of something
better, and it includes model legislation already in use in Tucson, AZ, and
Kennebunkport, ME. Also included is information regarding defintions,
lamp usage and costs, etc., which should be useful to those who are considering
legislation on a local level. The NELPAG hopes in the next year to provide
some more specific model legislation guidelines under a revised information
Suggested revisions or comments should be directed to Dan. This special
package is available by sending Dan a large (12.5 inch x 9 inch) SASE with
$1.01 postage for first-class U.S. delivery. It is also asked (but not
required) that you include an extra token amount of postage in the way of
unused postage stamps (in the vicinity of $2.00 worth) to go towards the
photocopy costs; these extra stamps will be used to mail out additional
material from people who are not aware of the NELPAG's "SASE rule".
NEXT NELPAG MEETING; MISC. NELPAG STUFF
The next NELPAG meeting will be held at Harvard College Observatory
(60 Garden St., Cambridge, Mass.), from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, April
8, in the classroom on the lower floor of A building (at the uppermost
parking lot). We'll also plan on lunch together at a local restaurant
at the conclusion of the scheduled meeting, to further discuss issues.
Thanks are due to Ray Wheaton (Boqueron, Puerto Rico) and to Howard
Mansfield (Hancock, NH) for sending nice supplies of 3-cent stamps to use on
many of the envelopes still on hand that have only 29-cent stamps (from the
old, pre-1995 postage rates); thanks also to Denny Nichols (Eaton Rapids, MI)
for help with postage. I will add at this point that donations of U.S.
postage stamps (generally 32-cent stamps) will always be welcomed, as we have
a fair amount of mailing of material to non-subscribers that is sent after
receiving requests for light-pollution literature and information that now
pour into my office.
Despite numerous suggestions to instate dues for NELPAG membership or for
subscription, my preference is to keep this a volunteer project as long as
possible, and to ask for donations chiefly in the way of people giving their
time to help our cause. I don't have any more time to spend on NELPAG than
any of our members/readers, so throwing money at me would only cause me more
headaches! But I would love to have more help (as would Dave Crawford with
IDA) at getting the news out, writing letters to government officials
encouraging good-lighting legislation, etc.
Actually, those few of us who have really spent a little time working
with government officials have found that positive results are really not
all that hard to achieve! Thus, if everybody with an interest in better
outdoor night lighting would gently inform their government officials (both
elected and otherwise) that they would like to see more pleasing, less
glaring, full-cutoff lighting in their area, there would be tremendous
changes! All it takes is a little effort to find names and addresses of
appropriate local (town/city and state) officials, and to then write off a
few thoughtful, kind letters expressing your concern.
NELPAG is here as a catalyst to get the ball rolling on improved outdoor
lighting; since it is a volunteer group, all we can really do is provide
encouragement and useful resources for people to use in their own local
efforts. -- Dan Green
The letters are flooding into Dan's office these days, but here are a
couple more interesting excerpts:
This letter was originally sent to SKY & TELESCOPE magazine, but not
published therein: "As mentioned in the current 'Amateur Astronomers'
feature, [the suburban town of] Belmont (Massachusetts) has undertaken a
change in street lighting. We are replacing mercury lamps with HPS and
cutoff fixtures, and downsizing some HPS that previously had been
installed. Because we are not changing spacing nor mounting height, we are
unable to achieve full-cutoff and state-of-the-art lighting design.
Unfortunately, after several years of study, the final result has been driven
by short-term economics, and aesthetics have taken a back seat.
The lighting industry is responsive to the market, and has now developed
low-wattage lamps with improved color and longevity, with further
improvements to come. Had Belmont waited for those lamps, we would enjoy
far greater savings than currently projected, with better color, and
reduced impact on our skies. Because we have not waited to use those lamps,
now available, we have roughly 23 percent more total lumen output than we
could have achieved. Thus, light spill and reflection to the sky will
continue to be excessive."
--- Dix Campbell, Chairman, Belmont Street Light Study Committee
1994 March 1
"I wrote to my state assemblyman about introducing some legislation in
New York, but he wasn't interested because he didn't know anything about light
pollution (and I had given him some IDA fact sheets). Light pollution has
increased greatly over here in just the past year from over-powered,
unshielded, poorly-aimed MH and HPS. . . . Personally, I find driving at
night much more difficult. There is also a MV street light shining into
my bedroom windows and around the drawn shades. Keep up the good work, and
maybe someday the Empire State will wake up."
--- Stephen G. Davis (Fort Edward, NY)
"Enclosed [is a] copy of 'Schools in the dark to fight crime', from the
[1994 November 29 issue of the Daytona Beach] News-Journal newspaper [and a]
copy of [a note in the newsletter of] the Atlanta (Georgia) Astronomy Club
concerning their success with a City Ordinance for top-lighting on billboards
only. [Both of these news clippings are produced below (printed version of
this NELPAG Circular only) -- Ed.] . . . I am secretary of the Ancient
City Astronomy Club ..., the newsletter editor, ... and [I] write the
scripts for our weekly radio program here, which covers the night sky for the
month plus a general astro subject. For September 1994 [the] subject was
Light Interference/Trespass." --- Ton Ponjee (St. Augustine, FL)
Enclosure [postal mail only]: clippings on light-pollution issues in
Florida and Georgia (courtesy T. Ponjee; see his letter, above)
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. 11), send three more SASEs, and number
them 12, 13, and 14 on the back side; if this is your last envelope on
file, Dan has written "last envelope" on the back side of it.
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).