O'Neill Nebraska

Director - Mark Urwiller

Assistant Directors: Jay Rasmussen, Kay Wolfe, and Dan Glomski

Staff:  Mark Faust, Stephen Ford

Honey Creek Observatory
Light Pollution Page

Help Stop Wasting Billions of Dollars A Year!

Night lighting (other than that originally provided by nature) has become a fact of life. They have become necessary in many cases. However, we here at Honey Creek Observatory would like to bring to public awareness that not all lights are necessary and most could be adapted in such a way to provide the same level of security and safety, sometimes better, AT A LOWER COST!
The graphic above is linked to a larger format version (68kb) which gives you an idea what we are talking about. This photo shows a night time view of the United States from space taken by satellite.  Here's a link showing the earth at night - Blue Marble Navigator The point we are trying to make by these links are - everything you see is wasted light! The need for light exists here on terra firma, but not up there! In addition, the wasted scattered light makes enjoyment and study of the night sky more difficult.
Ideas are being put forth by several groups to provide ways to shield light fixtures in order to direct the light DOWN where it is needed. If these fixtures are installed, the wattage of the bulbs used can be decreased and still provide the same amount of light and security where it's needed. THAT SAVES MONEY!
Yes we have a special interest in the night sky. However, we believe saving money is something we can ALL benefit by. If we can also preserve some of the beauty of the night sky so that our children can have the chance see the stars, is that really so bad?
We in the United States spend billions of dollars a year on night lighting! There are communities in the US who are now saving millions of dollars under this new philosophy!  Indeed most of the new businesses are implementing this new type of lighting.  If you would like to know more of the specifics, please check our links on light pollution from our link page.
We thought maybe it would be helpful to provide examples of various types of light fixtures - good and bad. We will start with the "worst" and generally progress to the "best" Here goes:

The "Bad" Guys

The "old" standard! These fixtures contain either Hg or Na vapor bulbs. What makes them so bad is the extruding globe which dissipates the light up as well as horizontally and down. Once you have driven a car under newer more efficient fixtures, you will really notice the difference! It's much more comfortable on your eyes. As well as wasting energy and money, these guys are a stargazer's nightmare.

Equally as bad, these fixtures are often offered at hardware stores. Again these fixtures contain both Na or Hg bulbs and again the extruding globe is a bane of amateur astronomers!

These fixtures are becoming more common around apartment complexes. Their efficiency depends on how and where they are mounted. Too often they are mounted in such a way that light scatters all over the place and they can be pretty obnoxious!

These "beauties" can be very obnoxious - especially if you are unlucky enough to be in front of the fixture! They are used to flood a large areas with light - with little regard to their light trespass upon others!

Another example of a fixture which could be used efficiently, but most often isn't.

Better, But Still Not Great!

This photo was taken at a new subdivision in Kearney. The bulb within (Na Vapor) are lower in wattage, but the panes of glass allow light to dissipate in all directions except down!

The city of Kearney was installing these in some of their new subdivisions. I don't know if they got a good deal on them or if someone really sold them to the city under the guise of shielded lights. They still allow a great deal of light to emit horizontally and up.

These fixtures aren't too bad. The "transparent" enclosure which extrudes underneath still dissipates some light out and up however.

These fixtures are similar to the previous example. The center light is pointed toward a wall to light up a sign - which helps keep it from trespassing over great distances.

The Winners!

Shielding on lights isn't necessarily new. These have been around for quite awhile. Perhaps the only problem with this fixture is that 4 bulbs might constitute overkill!

Kind words for lights are hard to come by from an amateur astronomer, but this one is "appreciated". Notice how the bulb is recessed inside the fixture. Light is directed down!

These "nice" fixtures are  installed near a  middle school in Kearney. Again the bulb is recessed and the light is directed down! Whoever selected these did their homework! "A" plus.

Another nice light fixture (as lights go anyway).

Remember the nasty fixture we started with up this page. This is the next generation!  The state (of Nebraska) highway department is installing these on the highways. I'm also seeing them on the interstate as well. Now if we could just get them to stop installing 6 of them where 1 or none of them was previously necessary!

Light Pollution Links!

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Mark Urwiller - Web Page Administrator

Send comments to: mark.urwiller@gmail.com

Mark Urwiller - Web Page Administrator

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