NELPAG Circular No. 12

NELPAG Circular No. 12                                    1995 April 27

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)

     "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.  Look at our
World Wide Web site at URL


     Nine individuals from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts met at
Harvard College Observatory on Saturday, April 8.  Robert Stefanik of
the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics spoke about his efforts
regarding the establishment of good outdoor-lighting regulations for the
transfer of Fort Devons (in northeast-central Massachusetts) from a federal
military base to a state-owned property that will include a federal prison
and will encourage economic (commercial) growth.  Edwin Aguirre of Sky and
Telescope magazine spoke about that magazine's plans to publish the
NELPAG's "Good Neighbor Outdoor Lighting" brochure as an insert in the
magazine (with extra copies printed for separate distribution) later this
year.  Bob Wylie of Danvers, MA, spoke about his attending the Roadway
Lighting meeting in Portland, Oregon, last month --- a brief report of which
is included below.  And Dan Green noted that voluntary monetary contributions
to help with NELPAG's distribution of photocopied educational materials
on outdoor lighting can be sent to him at the above address (checks payable
to "International Comet Quarterly", please).  The new bill number for the
proposed Massachusetts state outdoor-lighting bill is H. 2553.  -- D.G.

     The Town of Lexington formulated a Lighting Options Committee a few
years ago to deal with the issue of replacing old incandescent and
mercury-vapor lighting with more modern fixtures.  Initially, the local
utility company that handles street lighting (Boston Edison) wanted to
replace the old lighting with high-pressure sodium in drop-down lens fixtures
that would have greatly increased the intensity of lighting and glare in
this suburb of some 30,000 inhabitants just 15 miles northwest of Boston.
Some local residents objected, had Boston Edison stop their plan, and
developed the Lighting Options Committee to advise the town on what to do.
The members of the Committee have become quite knowledgeable on outdoor
lighting, and hired an architectural lighting consultant (Chris Ripman)
from the nearby town of Belmont.  Ripman has worked as the "middle man"
between the town and Boston Edison, and a project was devised in which 50
lamps of differing manufacturers, differing intensities, differing lenses
and casings, and differing emission types are to be deployed around the
town for evaluation.  At this writing, most of the test lighting has been
deployed.  At a meeting of the Lighting Options Committee on April 25,
which I attended, Ripman handed Committee members a preliminary version of
a questionairre in which the 50 project lamps are listed by location,
lamp type, and luminaire description.  There are both dropdish and cutoff
cobras, as well as "admirals hat" fixtures, with the cutoff cobra fixtures
predominating; Ripman explained that the dropdish lamps were put in for
evaluation and comparison only, and that full-cutoff lamps will likely be
what is accepted in the end.  I will keep NELPAG members informed of the
outcome of this project, which has already been in the planning stages for
some 3-4 years and which will likely continue the better part of the coming
year.  Committee members and I have also made some good inside contacts
at Boston Edison (a very difficult feat, it turns out!), and we hope to
further develop a meaningful, constructive dialogue with Boston Edison,
which supplies electricity and lighting to a very large part of the Boston
metropolitan area.  Boston Edison, I am told by committee members, was at
first very reluctant regarding Lexington's plans, but through persistence of
committee members over years, the company has made a large reversal and is
apparently working to actually please the town by incorporating what the
town wishes.  Miracles can happen!  --- Dan Green

     John Petrowicz (36 Kittery Ave., Rowley, MA  01969) has recently been
involved in requesting that the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA),
which operates the mass transit system in the Boston area, put in full-cutoff
lighting fixtures in two newly-proposed Rowley and Newburyport commuter-train
stations to the northeast of Boston.  The MBTA has been very receptive to
Petrowicz, who explained that he is an amateur astronomer with an observatory,
and that he offers free observing sessions to school children and adults in
the local area.  On April 14, the Interim General Manager of the MBTA, Robert
L. Mabardy, wrote to Petrowicz:  "Please be advised that our design engineers
have specified that 'cut off luminaires' with high pressure sodium lamps
be installed in both stations.  It is hoped that these shielded fixtures
will not compromise your astronomy educational training program. . . .
Again, thank you for . . . sharing your concerns with the MBTA."

     Clark Johnson of Heath, MA, is a journalist who has been keeping tabs
on an interesting situation concerning two northwestern-Massachusetts towns
that decided to turn off street lighting about four years ago to save money
in the local town budgets, thereby keeping money alive for use in schools,
fire departments, and police departments.  Each year since then, the town
residents of Bernardston (where all but a dozen or so critical intersection
lights were turned off) and Northfield (where two-thirds of the street
lights were turned off, from more than 300 to about 120 lights now) have
questioned the selectmen on the town boards about the wiseness of this
policy, but each time the police chiefs of the towns have stated that there
is no observed increase in crime or accidents resulting from this lighting
policy.  -- D.G.

     And speaking of miracles, it would be monumental if the state of Texas
would adopt a decent outdoor-lighting law.  Such a bill has been introduced
recently into the legislature, and NELPAG's e-mail
"exploder/distributor/mailer" has been carrying news of this story.  For those
who only see the printed NELPAG Circular, the following information was
relayed by David S. Smith in San Antonio, Texas (
     "Committee hearings were held Monday, April 24, on the light-pollution
abatement bill introduced by State Representative Ciro Rodriguez of San
Antonio.  The bill (HB. No. 763) involves amending Subtitle A, Title 7 of
the Local Government Code via 'Chapter 219.  Regulation of Outdoor Lighting'.
Speaking on behalf of the bill was Robert Gent of the San Antonio
Astronomical Society.  Speaking against the bill were representatives of
the outdoor advertisers and private security people.  The University of
Texas supports the bill, but it was extremely disappointing that none of
the University of Texas Astronomy personnel chose to appear (it seems that
many were not aware of it on April 24, but they are now!).  Nor were there
any other representatives from any of the other universities or astronomy
clubs throughout the state.  One would certainly think in a State that is
home to the McDonald Observatory and one of the largest star parties in the
United States more people would be actively involved in trying to take back
the night.  It may be that the hearings simply were not given adequate
notice.  The bottom line is that if there is to be any hope of passage of
this bill, prompt action must be taken by all interested parties.  I
strongly urge all who are interested in the passage of this bill to
IMMEDIATELY contact the committee chairman, Representative Fred Hill.  His
telephone number is 512-463-0486.  His address is P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX
78768.  We must have an immediate response from all supporters if this bill
is to stand a chance of even getting out of committee!"

     Bob Wylie, an illumination consultant and active NELPAG
participant, kindly submitted the following account of a recent meeting:
     The subcommittee of the Obtrusive Light Committee of the Roadway
Lighting Committee of IESNA met in Portland, OR, on March 23.  The
subcommittee is in the process of writing a technical paper relative to
light pollution and light trespass.  This paper will specifically relate
to roadway lighting.  Its content will be limited to how "good"
roadway-lighting projects focus on providing designs that use materials
and procedures to limit and contain glare.  The paper will also contain a
glossary of definitions and statements to help designers do quality,
glare-free designs and provide to public and private enforcement the means
to measure compliance to public light-trespass ordinances.  It will also
provide suggested language for writing ordinances that call for limiting
the amount of light from street lights cast onto private properties.
     The subcommittee strongly encouraged the use of liminaires that
distribute no light above 90 degrees from nadir.  They recognize that there
will be opposition from certain street-lighting luminaire manufacturers
(particularly those who promote the "old-fashioned" look for "historic places".
However, there are designs that simulate the "old-fashioned" look while
lighting roadways and adjacent properties adequately and within the desires
of the astronomer, the property owner, and the motorist.
                 --- R. R. Wylie, 49 Purchase St., Danvers, MA  01923-3637


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).