NELPAG Circular No. 22

NELPAG Circular No. 22                                    1998 June 24

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


     A report by Patrick Rowan and Bob Crelin:

     The NELPAG convened its spring 1998 meeting at Yale University in New
Haven, Connecticut, on June 6, in what organizer Bob Crelin called a "turning
point" in gatherings of this kind.  Among the usual concerned amateur
astronomers sat a major lighting manufacturer's representative, a professional
security consultant, and a town zoning officer involved in lighting regulation.
Representing a regional cross-section, the attendees arrived from New
York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, to share reports, ideas,
and strategies.  They were greeted with a generous assortment of outdoor
lighting catalogues and samples from several manufacturers, as well as
pamphlets, articles, and other materials on preventing light pollution.
     NELPAG founder Dan Green was unable to attend, so a brief welcome was
given by Crelin (of Branford, CT), while a networking list was passed around
for all to fill out.  As an indication of the day's healthy interaction to
come, it took some effort to keep the brief round of individual introductions
from breaking out into discussions on light-pollution issues.
     Professor Arthur Upgren (of Wesleyan and Yale Universities) gave the
group a brief summary of the recent International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)
meeting in Tucson, which celebrated the organization's tenth-year anniversary.
Upgren also discussed his new book, "Night Has a Thousand Eyes" (Plenum),
which contains a significant portion dedicated to light pollution.  He also
talked on his local efforts in Middletown, CT, which include serving as an
advisor for the lighting of a local bridge.  This ignited a lively discussion
on the impact of bridge lighting and on the new technologies available in
lighting today.  Alternatives were also discussed including tracer lights,
fiber optics, reflectors, and LEDs.
     Next, Crelin demonstrated the impact of visual imagery when introducing
outdoor-lighting problems to a law-making body.  His slides depicted the
"ratcheting" (competitive over-lighting) of retail businesses, roadside
floodlighting, and good/bad sign lighting, along with the associated hazards
and energy waste produced by them.  He included overhead projections of new
research in the industry, depicting lower-cost lighting installations and
improved visibility through lamp choices.  Public hazard issues from
over-lighting were discussed, as well.  As conversation followed, it was news
to some that the popularity of hazardous roadside floodlighting was due to
"free installation" programs offered by many power companies.  Also, several
attendees recalled being witness to drivers exiting overlit areas without
headlights, a mistake that proved fatal to a classmate of Crelin's.
     Security issues, which can pose daunting hurdles to the dark-sky advocate,
were addressed by security consultant, Jules Granata (of North Branford, CT).
A professional with 32 years in security, Granata related numerous examples
from his firsthand experience that illustrated the ineffectiveness of most
security lighting.  He described how glaring security lighting can actually
hinder surveillance and apprehension.  Granata stated that --- although the
"perception" of safety from lighting remains strong --- it is dogs, security
systems, closed-circuit television cameras, and motion sensors that have proven
to be the top deterrents to crime.
     John Pazmino (from New York City) presented an impressive series of
slides on several downlighting installations currently being done around
Manhattan.  He noted that Con Edison Power is promoting wise lighting
practices, including the use of fiber optics.  John feels that the
discouragement of uplighting and new sign standards will make 34th Street ---
one focus of his particular efforts --- a model of good lighting practices in
the next 10 years.  The evidence of active light redesign in one of the world's
most densely populated cities invigorated the meeting.
     A break for lunch carried the continuing conversations between slices of
delicious New Haven pizza.  As the meeting reconvened, Crelin prefaced a
discussion with Branford's zoning officer, Justine Gillen, with an explanation
of the town's lighting regulations (enacted in June 1997).  He emphasized the
Illuminating Engineering Society of North America recommendations --- the
recognized industry standard for lighting levels --- which are included in
the regulations.  Crelin remarked that these recommendations are far below
what is used by many businesses today and can only be enforced by local
regulation or ordinance.  Gillen answered several questions regarding
enforcement of the Branford regulations and offered her advice.  She also
noted experiencing little resistance when requesting compliance from new site
proposals.  With the recent passing of similar regulations in Wallingford,
CT, Gillen expressed her optimism that the lighting regulation movement was
gaining steam across the region.
     A number of lighting manufacturers and representatives had expressed
interest in the NELPAG meeting, but due to various scheduling conflicts,
many were unable to attend.  In place, most sent generous supplies of
catalogues, brochures, and even samples of full-cut-off and shielded fixtures
for attendees to take or review.  Fixture samples sent by Regent Lighting
offered one of the first residential cut-off designs in a "dusk-to-dawn"
model, which was wired for demonstration.
     Harvey Hutchinson of Spectro-Lume/Lithonia Lighting was in attendance and
served as a valuable source of information throughout the meeting.  From the
lighting industry's perspective, he offered the term "indiscriminate lighting"
as a more useful alternative to simply "light pollution".  Hutchinson suggested
that his efforts are geared mainly towards new fixture installations versus
shielding existing problems due to the high cost of contractor labor.  "The
technology is already here", he stated, emphasizing that good site lighting
can be accomplished with lower levels and without glare and annoying light
trespass.  Hutchinson expressed the support he is receiving from the
manufacturer, indicating a positive trend in the future of outdoor-lighting
products.  In keeping with this spirit, Crelin concluded by debuting his own
prototype residential fixture (to the meeting), with which he hopes to attract
manufacturer interest.
     After running 45 minutes over time, this day of inspiring discussion and
presentations came to an optimistic close, marking another milestone gathering
in the light pollution . . . excuse us, "indiscriminate lighting" movement.

     I have some great news.  I am a councillor for the Massachusetts Medical
Society (MMS), and as such was able to submit a resolution at the anuual
meeting yesterday and today to have the Mass Med society endorse the
light-pollution Bill before the State Legislature.  I described it as a medical
issue for elderly patients with cataracts blinded by poor lighting, a safety
issue on streets, a waste issue by needless waste of electricity and the energy
to produce it, and lastly as an aesthetic issue and quality of life.  After
some debate it sailed through the reference committee and today was passed
unanimously by the full MMS House of Delegates!!
     What this means for us is some political muscle.  The Mass med society
will send letters to the Ways and Means Committee of the State Legislature,
and to the House and Senate in general, stating its full support of the measure
and urging passage.  Plus, lobbyists for the MMS will include it in their agenda
in discussions with politicians.  I hope this will put us over the top for
votes to get this passed this year.    --- Mario Motta (May 10).

Editor's note:  On May 18, in the "Weekly MMS Legislative Update",
it was announnced that "the MMS House of Delegates adopted a number of
resolutions at its recent Annual Meeting", including a position "taken
in support of state legislative efforts to reduce 'light pollution'."
Dr. Motta tells me that letters have been sent to the State Legislature
in support of the outdoor night-lighting bill.  If readers can forward this
news to American Automobile Association editors around the country for
possible inclusion in their monthly magazines/newsletters, this might create
a lot of awareness on the medical and safety issues of bad lighting
to drivers.  --- D.G.

     The June 20 issue of NEW SCIENTIST magazine (London) published a
prominent news story on page 4 regarding a plan by the Russians to point
a 25-m reflector at the northern hemisphere during this coming November
9-10 (16 orbits of the earth, over about 24 hours) that will shine
reflected sunlight down to cities around latitude 50-55 degrees that
will be brighter than the full moon, as seen from the ground.  This
experimental project (known as Znamya 2.5) is hoped by the Space
Regatta Consortium (led by the Energia company of Korolev, near Moscow)
to be expanded to as many as 200 such reflectors 70 meters across, each
reflecting "light up to 100 times as bright as the full Moon"!  This is
a good time to write government officials, including the Russian
ambassador to your country, to protest this idea that is so potentially
devastating to astronomy.  --- D.G.


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 $30.00 per year; send check to International Dark-Sky
Association, 3225 N. First Ave., Tucson, AZ  85719 (NOTE new address!).