NELPAG Circular No. 20

NELPAG Circular No. 20                                    1997 Dec. 3

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 news/information Circular is available by sending
self-addressed, stamped (currently 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).
NELPAG Circulars are issued at irregular intervals, once every couple of months
on average, as news accumulutes.  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


     If you are not subscribing to the printed edition of this Circular, you
are missing a lot!  We give copies of useful items that are not placed into
machine-readable form.  In addition to the useful copies of things mentioned
in the item below, there is a splendid article at the end of this issue
written by a journalist for the Meriden (CT) Record-Journal --- one of the
best newspaper articles on this topic to date.  I present it here with the
kind permission of Jeffery Kurz and the Record-Journal.

     Around 20 people showed up at Harvard College Observatory on a rainy
Saturday morning, November 1, to talk about light-pollution issues in
New England.  Numerous Boston-area newspapers had been contacted in the
week prior to the meeting, but none actually sent reporters to cover the
meeting (though the Boston Herald expressed interest subsequently in
getting information to write up the meeting in a story).
     John Petrowicz circulated a list for meeting attendees to sign, and he
kindly entered the data into machine-readable form for use in this Circular.
Most, but not all, attendees wrote down their names, e-mail addresses, and
telephone numbers.  Below is the list that John sent me (along with some
additions by me); I have eliminated most personal telephone numbers, but
interested individuals can contact me directly if they wish to contact
certain attendees.
     Meeting attendees:  Dan Green (Editor of this Circular); Kelly Beatty,
Sky and Telescope (; John Petrowicz, amateur astronomer
and mechnical engineer, Rowley, MA (; Michael Brown,
amateur astronomer and environmental engineer, Townsend, MA
(; Arthur Upgren, astronomer, Wesleyan and Yale
Universities (; Joan Dearborn and Andy Brunelle,
amateur astronomers, Rollinsford, NH; Jim Marzilli, Mass. House of
Representatives (; Peter Talmage, Kennebunkport, ME,
Lighting Committee (; Mario Motta, amateur astronomer,
Lynnfield, MA (; James M. Stockman, Lighting Consultant,
Kennebunkport, ME (phone 207-967-5223;; name mis-spelled on
the preliminary announcement of speakers); Paul Lutkevich, IESNA Lighting
Designer (phone 781-221-1102;; Michael Ratner,
astronomer, Center for Astrophysics (; Paul and
Rosemary Smith, Plymouth, MA; Bob Napier, amateur astronomer, RI
(; Robert Stefanik, astronomer, Center for Astrophysics
(phone 617-490-7070;; Bob Crelin, Astronomical
Society of New Haven, CT (; Jules Granata, teacher,
security consultant (51 Deforest Dr., No. Brnford, CT  06579).
     Upgren spoke about his novel college course on light pollution.  Bob
Crelin brought along a security consultant, Jules Granata, who noted that
security people put numerous tactics over lighting when it comes to security
measures; a survey published in USA Today placed dogs, alarms, moving to a
safer area, having someone at home, and guns all as deterrents that were ranked
over lighting by prison inmates convicted of property crimes.  Crelin also
mentioned two key resources for information on light-pollution prevention,
produced in New Jersey and Vermont.  The "New Jersey Light Pollution Study
Commission's Report" is available at no charge by calling 800-792-8630 or
609-292-4840.  The "Outdoor Lighting Manual for Vermont Municipalities" is
available for $25 for individuals ($20 for community organizations) from the
Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (telephone 802-658-3004).
Among the numerous hand-outs that Crelin gave out was a sample "postcard"
that he prints up and gives out at talks on light pollution; it is addressed
on one side to "Planning and Zoning Committee; Town/City Hall; . . .", and
the reverse side is given below [printed version of Circular only].
     Some "new", stylish cutoff light fixtures were shown by James Stockman
and others at the meeting.  Enclosed with the paper version of this Circular
are diagrams, pictures, and notes of two basic types.  The first two are
McGraw-Edison lights (contact Cooper Lighting, P.O. Box 820824, Vicksburg, MS
39182).  that are like the typical lousy four-sided-open-glass-light-box-on-
a-pole fixtures in driveways (and in downtown areas where the intention is to
look "old and quaint") --- except that these lights have the real lamp
recessed up in the opaque top "hat" of the fixture, whereas there is a
"decorative chimney . . . made of frosted glass" that merely glows softly from
the concealed lamp above, while the useful light from the lamp goes directly
down and not upwards.  The second type, called "Olde Town", can be ordered
from The Harbor Lights, U.S. Route 1, Hampton Falls, NH (Attn. Michael Learned,
telephone 603-926-8500).
     Bob Stefanik talked about the meeting of the commission on light
pollution at the International Astronomical Union in Kyoto, Japan, last August.
A curious item that he related from a Japanese speaker in Kyoto was that a
study into sources of light pollution in Japan showed that the biggest source
of upward lighting (at least in some places) was motor-vehicle headlights.
Bob Wylie and I have talked at some length about this problem, and see it as
an area in drastic need of attention.  There is an increasing problem in that
highway departments have been allowed to place signs over roadways,
necessitating that automobile headlights be pointed upward enough to read such
signs --- leading, of course, to the "Catch 22" issue of blinding oncoming
drivers even more.
     As this meeting was also billed as the New England regional meeting of
the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), it was fitting that the IDA was
mentioned often as a wonderful resource.  There were some minor critisms that
surfaced.  For example, John Petrowicz stated that he thought that both IDA
and NELPAG are bad names because the terms "light pollution" and "dark sky"
suggest that we are a very narrow, biased interest group (something that I
disagree with), and that we should consider changes; in terms of NELPAG, he
suggested "New England Lighting Advisory Group" or "New England Outdoor-
Lighting Education Group".  But because IDA and NELPAG have almost become
"household" names and acronyms, I doubt that name changes will come soon.  A
couple from New Hampshire who are thinking of introducing state legislation
there were asking about the need to get expert "witnesses" to come and talk
to legislatures in general.  They asked if somebody like Dave Crawford could/
should go to every state legislature in the country and give a talk before the
legislature on the benefits of good lighting, and the evils of bad lighting.
I said it seemed like a good idea, but that nobody is paid to do this sort of
thing.  (But perhaps IDA could fund somebody like you to do this?)  Somebody
else remarked that IDA should be doing more on a national level, particularly
to see about federal outdoor lighting legislature (idealistic, and perhaps
misplaced, in my opinion, but I'm just reporting IDA-related comments).
Several people commented on the IDA's past history of putting too much effort
into LPS lighting, whereas most areas are just concerned with (a) getting
shielded lighting, and/or (b) getting lumen outputs lowered.  Comments were
made that IDA should be catering more to the "little people" (e.g., amateur
astronomers, who just want darker skies, period), than so much to the
astronomers at large professional observatory sites.  One person even
suggested that perhaps one reason that IDA doesn't get many more amateur
members is that IDA is perceived as something that is too concerned about
getting LPS lighting around professional observatories, and not enough about
the problems of unshielded, poorly-designed, overlit fixtures in Anytown,
     It was further seconded that IDA and NELPAG should both put top-priority
efforts into establishing who makes nice, cutoff lights for residential porch
and driveway use, and to not only make lists of good, low-cost lighting
available through our normal channels (websites, info sheets, newsletters),
but to also strongly encourage manufacturers to make such lamps more easily
available to homeowners and contractors and to strongly encourage retail
outlets (like Home Depot, Sears, etc.) to carry a large selection of full-
cutoff fixtures for home yard use.
     I may have missed some useful points that should be mentioned here from
the November 1 meeting, and if so, I apologize.  Time constraints prevented
me from getting this Circular finished until some weeks after the meeting.
In closing, we had a really productive and interesting meeting in which some
new light-pollution fighters in New England were able to get together with
activists who have been around for some years.  Each of us probably learned
some useful things that we can use in our continuing campaigns to educate
the world.  -- D.W.E.G.

     At the November 1 meeting, Andy Brunelle passed along a copy of a page
from the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated, 1993, Title 20
(Transportation), 236:55, which says "it shall be unlawful to place
any light along a highway so positioned as to blind or dazzle the vision of
travelers on the adjacent highway. . . . Whenever a person shall violate the
provisions of this section, he shall be given written notice to correct the
location of the light.  If he does not so correct the location of the light
within a period of 30 days from the date of written notice to do so, he shall
be prosecuted for violation of the provisions hereof.  Whoever violates any
provision of this section shall be guilty of a violation if a natural person,
or guilty of a misdemeanor if any other person; and in either case shall cease
all operation of such offending light."
     Bob Wylie has passed along some wording in the highway codes for
California, as well.  The 1997 edition of the California Motor Vehicle
Code, section 21466.5, "Light Source Impairing Driver's Vision Prohibited",
states the following:  "No person shall place or maintain or display, upon
or in view of any highway, any light of any color of such brilliance as to
impair the vision of drivers upon the highway.  A light source shall be
considered vision impairing when its brilliance exceeds the values listed
below."  (The specifications are rather technical, but can be provided to
interested individuals.)
      I urge other people to search for such wording in their state
codes and to forward it to me (and to the IDA); we will post word of it here
and on the Web pages.  It is clear that such code is out there and that little
is being done to enforce it.  We need to shake up our state officials by
pointing out problem lighting areas.  -- D.W.E.G.

     Having passed will little opposition through two committees in the
Massachusetts state legislature in the past seven months, our pending bill
on outdoor lighting has received the new designation H.5069, as it sits in
the House Committee on Ways and Means, awaiting a hearing and action there.
     Meanwhile, on November 11, a meeting was held by Dan Green, Bob Wylie,
Michael Ratner, and Paul Lutkevich and a fellow lighting designer/engineer
from Fay, Spofford, and Thorndike (FST).  This November 11 meeting was to
discuss the pending Massachusetts bill, to work out differences between what
we as NELPAGers had submitted as proposed legislation and what practicing
lighting engineers were concerned with.  Some compromise wording was agreed
upon for submission as revised text to the House Ways and Means Committee, and
we are currently working to arrange a meeting with other concerned state
officials who dealing with outdoor night lighting, again to try reaching
agreement so that the bill may attain passage in 1998.
     We learned that FST has a contract concerning the "Big Dig", in which
the "Central Artery" (I-93) in Boston is being put underground and expanded,
and a park erected over the tunnelled expressway in downtown Boston;
the City of Boston has requested that all the outdoor lights in this park
area be semi-cutoff fixtures (which FST is supplying) that emit as much as
5 percent of the light above the horizontal, and this is one big reason why
we have been pressured into allowing some semi-cutoff lighting to be allowed
in the state bill.  There are to be 580 400-watt lights on the Charles Street
bridge alone.  Politics do have an unfortunate way of entering aspects of
outdoor lighting particularly at the state level.
     We NELPAGers have been on a learning curve with all this legislation
activity and discussion with outdoor-lighting engineers/designers.  I can
definitely advise others from what we have learned:  When proposing state
legislation in another state, start with wording that has been arduously
worked on with various interests in other states (Maine, Massachusetts,
etc.).  Then, bring in outdoor-lighting experts who are involved in
state-funded lighting design and installation; use small, private meetings
so that people can speak their minds freely and so that very useful
discussion and compromise can be reached.  Then, once major parties are
relatively agreeable to the wording of the bill, get a representative or
senator (or other appropriate official) to introduce the bill.
     Look on the NELPAG Web page for the latest wording and discussion
regarding the Massachusetts bill.  We encourage all readers to check out
state legislative action on outdoor lighting in their state, and if none has
been passed or introduced, to take the Massachusetts bill and send it to
various interested parties in your state, telling them that you would like
to have such legislation introduced and that you would like comment.  Other
states may end up with very different outdoor-lighting laws, but the pending
Massachusetts bill (patterned after the 5-year-old successful Maine state
law) has shown to be simple and passable.  Having a state law that mandates
full-cutoff lighting (and good lighting in general) can have large potential
good impact on outdoor lighting in general -- including lighting that is not
affected by the state bill.  In Maine, for example, cities and towns are now
automatically getting new and replacement full-cutoff fixtures from Central
Maine Power Company, because CMP found it most practical to buy entirely
full-cutoff luminaires to conform to the Maine law on state-funded lighting.
Other issues, such as limits on lumen output, sign lighting, and residential
lighting, can perhaps be best handled at this stage by local town and city
ordinances and by-laws.
     Also brought up at the November 11 meeting was the suggestion that the
engineering firm Fay, Spofford, and Thorndike organize a Boston-area meeting
with the NELPAG and IDA --- probably sometime in the second half of 1998 ---
to bring lighting engineers and designers, government officials, power-utility
officials, environmentalists, astronomers and scientists, and light
manufacturers all together for a rather large meeting on light-pollution
and light-trespass issues.  We welcome such a meeting, and will inform the
world of the developments for such a meeting in these NELPAG Circulars.
 --- D.G.

ENCLOSURES (printed Circular only):  (1) copy of postcard from Bob Crelin;
(2) three pages of cutoff light fixtures for residential, driveway, and
ornamental use; (3) article by Jeffery Kurz.


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).