NELPAG Circular No. 18

NELPAG Circular No. 18                                    1997 Sept. 29

New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (NELPAG)
Editor:     Daniel W. E. Green [M.S. 18; Harvard-Smithsonian Observatory;
               60 Garden Street; Cambridge, MA  02138]  (telephone 617-495-7440)
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@HARVEE.BILLERICA.MA.US (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


     The Committee on Science and Technology will hear oral testimony and
questions/answers on the pending state House bill 4449 on Wednesday, October
8, at the State House in Boston.  The hearing will begin at 11 a.m. in
Room B1, in the basement level of the State House.  Rep. Jim Marzilli and
his aide, Ellen Schneider, have asked Dan Green to be present to field
questions and present some written testimony on behalf of the bill.  The
problems with wording, specified in NELPAG Circular No. 17, will have been
rectified by the October 8th hearing, according to Schneider.
     If any NELPAGers would like to accompany Dan at the hearing on
October 8, please contact him.

     The NELPAG will convene its next meeting on Saturday, November 1, at
Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Mass., beginning at 10 a.m.  Please
show up anytime between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. for informal meeting and talking,
and we'll try and have some coffee/tea and donuts available.  Lunch in a
nearby restaurant will follow the meeting (presumably around 12:30 or 1:00 p.m.).
     I tried very hard to pick a date in which most people could attend
this meeting.  While no date is perfect for everybody, Nov. 1 appears to be
better overall than the other possible dates for most people who have
expressed interest in attending this meeting.  This meeting is open to the
public, and there is no entrance/registration fee.  We realize that Nov. 1
is also the date of the IDA/Virginia Section's all-day Workshop, but it is
unlikely that more than a couple of people would be interested in
attending both meetings.
     While maintaining an informal, open atmosphere (as at all NELPAG
meetings), we will have a schedule of invited 5- to 10-minute talks by
various individuals around New England, describing various
light-pollution-fighting efforts in the region.  The talks will begin shortly
after 10:00 a.m., so please try to be on time (or a little early!).  I plan
also to have an open-forum discussion on various issues, particularly what
the NELPAG can and should do to speed up educational activities in the region.
I am inviting a few government and industry officials to attend and perhaps
even speak briefly on pertinent issues, and I'll also invite some news-media
representatives (including reporters from the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and
other Boston-area newspapers).  Feel free to put a notice regarding this meeting
in your local newspaper (or contact your local radio station to have them read
a public-service announcement of the meeting).
     Current planned speakers whom I have heard from are Art Upgren, Bob Wylie
(on recent professional-lighting-engineer meetings and actions), Peter
Talmage (on a new shield for residential post lights that he has designed),
Mike Brown (on the new Townsend, MA, ordinance), John Petrowicz (on Rowley,
MA, activities), Bob Napier (on Rhode Island activities), Bob Crelin (on
activities in Connecticut), and myself; more will be added.  If anybody else
would like to speak on a certain topic, please notify me as soon as possible.
To keep the meeting lively and interactive, talks should be limited to 5 or
10 minutes (with a couple of exceptions).  We will have an overhead viewgraph
projector and slide projector for speakers to use.  Please feel free to bring
along handouts, if you think they may be appropriate; we'll have a table at
the back of the room for this purpose.
     I hope that NELPAGers will volunteer to produce refreshments (coffee/tea,
donuts, whatever) for this meeting, for people who show up between 9:30 and
10:00 a.m.  Anybody so interested can contact me directly, and I'll put
whomever volunteers for "refreshment duty" in contact with each other.
          The location of the meeting has been changed from Phillips Auditorium
(where another meeting is being held on the same day) to Pratt Conference
Room, at Harvard Observatory.  To get to Pratt, park by the tennis courts in
the lower Observatory parking lot, and a door directly leading into Pratt
can be entered from the grassy lawn overlooking the tennis courts.  The
Observatory is at 60 Garden St. in west Cambridge, and a map is provided with
this Circular (printed version only).  Maps are available on the World Wide
Web at URL; try also the fabulous program at (go to "tripquest" section) to get your own free,
personalized directions to the Observatory.
   --- D.W.E.G.

     William Abbott, author and mover of the new Plymouth, MA, outdoor-lighting
ordinance, has faxed a copy of a newspaper article from the Patriot Ledger,
dated 1997 May 6, that says that the Town Meeting members of the town of
Marshfield unanimously approved an outdoor-lighting ordinance that limits the
amount of light that commerical and industrial businesses can put onto the
ground (8 footcandles is the new limit).  A nearby Gulf gas station put 20
footcandles of light onto the ground --- a truly amazing amount of light.  But
this over-lighting problem can be seen all over New England and the United
States, and more of this sort of legislation is definitely needed.

     A company known as "Soft Lighting Systems" (Suite 15; 1840 130th Ave., NE;
Bellevue, WA  98005-2228; e-mail specializes in producing
full-cutoff outdoor lighting to illuminate ball fields at night, and their
color brochure shows some nice examples of their work with a couple of
baseball fields.  The company mounts numerous full-cutoff box luminaires on
a single pole, and uses a mix of 1000-watt metal-halide and HPS lamps to get
good illumination.  They also have a World Wide Web site that is now listed
on the NELPAG Web page (under "Links").  If you know of any possible lighting
of ball fields in your area in the near future, get in touch with Christopher
Fote or Brent Armstrong at Soft Lighting Systems.

     Carl Shaflik, an engineer in British Columbia (e-mail,
has kindly forwarded copies of his Technical Paper entitled "Light Pollution:
Environmental Effects of Roadway Lighting".  A copy of this has been prepared
as IDA Information Sheet 125, and there is a link to this now on the NELPAG
Web site (see  His Figure 2 is a
very useful diagram that shows the useful and "glare" lighting emitted by
full-cutoff and dropdish streetlights; basically, the same amount of useful
light reaches the same area on the ground beneath the lamps, but the dropdish
lamp has so much wasted light.  This figure is given below (in the printed
edition of this Circular only, but it is available at the above Web URL), and
it will make a useful diagram for talks or presenations to town/city or state
government officials when urging them to adopt full-cutoff lights as standards
for your locale.  The point, of course, is that lower wattages can be used in
the full-cutoff fixtures.  Peter Talmage notes that full-cutoff luminaire heads
are basically identical in cost to dropdish lamp heads; using LPS, HPS, or MH
lamps at low wattage (25-100 watts) will give good quantities of light on the
ground with relatively little glare and will cause large savings over current
usage in streetlights in most areas.  --- D.G.

     I have been informed by William M. Barbel of the Illinois Department
of Transportation (IDOT), Schaumburg, that the IDOT has implemented a statewide
policy of full-cutoff luminaires on all new and replacement streetlights on
state and federal highways across the whole state of Illinois.  Much of the
metropolitan Chicago area has gone to full-cutoff HPS lamps in recent years,
and this policy will continue.  -- D.G.

     Peter Talmage faxed a page from the 1996 Aug. 19 issue of The New Yorker
magazine, which discusses Governor Christine Whitman of New Jersey, who
"turned off fifty-five hundred lights on streets, above highway signs, and at
freeway interchanges throughout New Jersey.  All in all, this last economy
saves . . . four hundred and seventy thousand dollars a year . . ."  Talmage
adds that "maybe she should win an IDA award for sensibility".


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).