NELPAG Circular No. 27 2000 November 11 New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (NELPAG) Editor: Daniel W. E. Green [M.S. 18; Harvard-Smithsonian Observatory; 60 Garden Street; Cambridge, MA 02138] e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Secretary: Eric Johansson e-mail: email@example.com "Subscription" to this news/information Circular is available by sending self-addressed, stamped (currently 33 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 http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/nelpag/nelpag.html *********** NELPAG REGIONAL MEETING ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11 About thirteen people assembled at Phillips Auditorium at Harvard College Observatory (Cambridge, MA) on November 11 for a 6-hour meeting (which included a 1.5-hour lunch discussion at a nearby restaurant); six people from Connecticut and one person from Rhode Island joined six people from Massachusetts for some good discussions. Of primary importance at this meeting was the discussion of the 2002 Fall IDA national meeting, which will be hosted in the Boston area by the NELPAG and the IDA. It was agreed to establish immediately a Local Organizing Committee, or LOC (to work on local details regarding the meeting venue and making sure that the meeting runs well) and a Program Organizing Committee, or POC (to determine the format and speakers for the meeting). The POC will necessarily include numerous people from outside the Boston area and even outside of New England, while the LOC will be composed more of local individuals. Several people at the Nov. 11 meeting agreed to serve on either the LOC or POC, but more people will be needed, so please consider volunteering (contact me or the IDA office). It was widely agreed that holding the meeting at the Boston Museum of Science (MoS) (which has a large auditorium that must be rented out) is preferable to almost any other venue, because of its respected, neutral (non-astronomical and non-corporate) standing. In earlier discussions with MoS personnel, I had found that they would not be willing to offer us use of an auditorium at no cost, though we may be able to get a reduced non-profit charge. The attendees of the Nov. 11 meeting felt that the MoS venue is so important for this IDA national meeting that the funds should be sought --- one good source being the rental of tables at the meeting for lighting-industry companies to show their literature and/or light fixtures. Also, the MoS had indicated an interest in establishing an exhibit on the history of outdoor lighting over the past century-plus, and this would be an added draw to highlight our meeting. So the next step is to get back to the MoS people and ask about costs for renting the big auditorium there for either one or two days, and to inquire further about setting up an exhibit on lighting for 2002. This brought us to wonder how many days we should aim for this IDA national meeting to last. It is assumed that this will be either a 2- or or 3-day meeting. It was widely agreed that we should spend one or two days at the MoS, with talks and panel discussions open to the public and news media and relying heavily on interaction and involvement with lighting engineers, members of the lighting industry and power-utility companies, environmentalists, lawyers, government officials, and astronomers. But it was also thought very sound to then have a full-day meeting *after* the MoS sessions back at Harvard Observatory (where there is no room rental or parking problems) for the light-pollution activists to discuss the MoS sessions and to talk about future paths to take. It was also encouraged that we have workshops at the fall 2002 meeting, and it is thought that a good plan for the MoS sessions is to have an invited review talk on some topic, followed by a panel discussion open to members of the audience on that same topic, followed by a second review talk, a second panel discussion, etc. --- to keep the audience involved and interested, and to provide for increased opportunities for the various groups involved in outdoor-lighting issues to have more interaction and constructive dialogue. Various themes will need to be discussed, as well as potential speakers and panelists for each theme, before a firm number of dates can be chosen. Discussion about registration fees left the issue unresolved. It was felt by some that we might perhaps have a low registration fee at the MoS sessions (but none for the 1-day activist meeting here at Harvard Observatory on the final day), but some members of the public (and even news media) might be turned away by the prospect of a registration fee, so this needs to be considered cautiously. I presume that invited speakers and panelists would not be charged a registration fee. One person suggested that we might even consider paying a professional convention planner to help make the meeting planning and actual event turn out more polished (helping to work on some of the tedious little issues like badges, hotel accomodation, registration issues, etc.), but some budget estimates would need to be worked out first. There was also a brief discussion about the possibility of published proceedings of the invited papers (and maybe even some of the discussions if tape-recorded), but cost issues here would also have to be considered. Additional discussion about the Fall 2002 IDA meeting will occur on Thursday, Nov. 16, when Elizabeth Alvarez (IDA, Tucson) meets here in Cambridge with me and several NELPAGers. We agreed also to hold the next regional NELPAG meeting in April 2001 in New Haven, CT, to further discuss plans for the Fall 2002 IDA meeting; there is quite a bit of work to do! Various other items were discussed at the Nov. 11 meeting, including such topics as reaching out to school children on light-pollution education. We discussed putting together a NELPAG set of slides, getting various people to contribute their best light-pollution slides. We talked at some length about letter-writing campaigns, with the suggestion that both NELPAG and IDA compile lists of people who will commit to writing letters for special requests (generally for, but not strictly limited to, bigger issues involving large cities, states, or the entire nation), to get more letters written --- especially to retail stores that sell outdoor lighting fixtures for residential, recreational, and small-business use. We also talked about the status of various state laws and pending bills on outdoor lighting, and about the pending introduction of a national bill in the U.S. Congress (with Cliff Haas showing a 2-page letter that Senator Joe Lieberman wrote to him highlighting the Senator's strong support for the fight against light pollution, indicating that Sen. Lieberman might be a good person to ask to introduce such a bill into the Senate). Art Upgren showed a photometer that he and his students produced some 20 years ago to determine the brightness of the night sky, and we talked about how the sky is brightening rapidly in so many places. A photometer is a way to quantify how much the sky is brightening. Upgren also noted that he has obtained a list of members of the American Astronomical Society (which does not appear complete) and is comparing this to a list of IDA members; preliminary indications are that only a few percent of AAS members belong to the IDA. Upgren is the new chair of the AAS committee on light pollution, and he hopes to infuse some energy into the committee and the AAS on light-pollution issues. Eric Johansson, who does a great job of maintaining the NELPAG e-mail discussion list, notes that there is now an archive of the NELPAG discussion e-mail messages available on the World Wide Web; we will add a link to this from the NELPAG website very soon. I apologize if I have left out anything important from the discussions at this Nov. 11 meeting, but it was a very productive and interesting meeting. -- Dan Green *********** 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!).