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#1 Glassthrower

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 11:23 PM

Cloudy Nights is, at it's best, a positive and helpful place. We are an inclusive community. We turn away no one who comes seeking to learn more about astronomy, telescopes, or related topics. We only ask that everyone "play nice", limit negative behavior, and leave "hot button" topics unsaid - religion, politics, etc.

Light Pollution, by it's very nature, is a passionate subject for us astronomers. But, as much as we may not like it, not everyone in the world agrees with us or cares about light pollution the way we do. In most places, having bright unshielded flood lights surrounding one's house, shining in all directions, is not illegal. It's not immoral either - not by any broadly accepted definition of the term. It may not be the best choice of lighting, but wasteful unshielded lighting is the standard in many places where we live, work and stargaze. These street lights, porch lights, business signs, billboards and vehicle lights are widespread and these infrastructures are monolithic in nature - they have been around for generations now, long before light pollution was fully understood or even forseen. Changing how the streets, homes, and businesses of America are lighted is a major undertaking and one that will not happen quickly or without drama.

Cloudy Nights wishes to foster a positive environment where the science of light pollution can be discussed. People seeking to learn more about light pollution should be able to come here, peruse the information available, discuss the issue, and walk away with something positive gained - and hopefully a new appreciation (or at least a curiosity) for starry dark skies the way nature originally intended them.

It is not our place, nor our mission, to persuade people to turn off their lights or tell them what to do with their own property or business. We do not want to come across as some activists with a collective chip on our shoulders against people who don't share our love of stargazing.

Light Pollution can be discussed on a number of fronts - one is the science of light pollution. Skyglow, light trespass, light domes, scatter, and transmission lines are all aspects of the issue that the average person outside of this hobby has little awareness of. We can help here. We can share our knowledge of the science by explaining, as best we can, in a constructive manner, the benefits of using properly shielded lights at night. There truly are safety, health, and environmental reasons to use "dark sky friendly" lighting. We can help people to understand this, and to make the right decision ON THEIR OWN about choosing a dark sky friendly attitude/way of life. But we musn't coerce, threaten, be belligerent, heated or forceful. We musn't come across as judgemental or self-righteous. And we should NOT tell people what to do - we should let them make their own decision based on the information at hand. The old proverb comes to mind - you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

When discussing possible dark sky legislation and anti-light pollution laws, then matters can get tricky. The "play nice" rule and the "no politics" rule can become a little nebulous in such cases - forgive the terrible pun.

We want to provide useful information that will help people take civic action on their own, or with local/national networks (like the IDA) - to implement dark-sky friendly regulations in their area. Working with local and state governments, zoning commissions, lighting boards, and utility departments can be an intimidating experience for the uninitiated - we'd like to offer a place for others to share their experiences and resources in this respect. But the politics of the day should always take a back seat to the academic and the science. Stick to the facts and leave the feelings out of it.

And when in doubt whether something is appropriate or not, follow these general guidelines :

1) stay positive - no BB gun stuff, no suggestions of illicit activity, no threatening the neighbors, or anything of that sort. I know most of us don't say that kind of stuff, but since we are laying out boundaries so to speak, let's say it for the record.

2) as much as possible, leave politics out of it. Stick to the facts and the science. Stick to observational experiences and how light pollution effects you. Talk about the positive effects of dark skies and using shielded fixtures.

3) And if you are still unsure of whether something is appropriate or not for this forum, then PM a moderator or administrator and ask. There is no such thing as a dumb question in this regard, we'd love to hear from you.

Clear dark skies!

 

#2 Charles Funk

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 09:42 AM

Well, I was going to come here and complain a bit...

..."if" these people who insist on what seems to me to be "light trespass" with no concern of their neighbor, NEED to understand, in some way, that what they are doing IS destructive, intrusive, and objectionable by a growing minority. I understand that we all have the right to light up our property any way we see fit, but where does that cross the line? ...and how does one in the face of complete ignorance and/or blatant disregard, go about turning the tide, without making these individuals understand that excessive light is so "bad" on many levels,(light pollution, utility costs, waste of resources) without putting a negative spin on the situation?

Charles

(edited for content by moderator)
 

#3 Glassthrower

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 07:00 PM


Well, I was going to come here and complain a bit...

..."if" these people who insist on what seems to me to be "light trespass" with no concern of their neighbor, NEED to understand, in some way, that what they are doing IS destructive, intrusive, and objectionable by a growing minority. I understand that we all have the right to light up our property any way we see fit, but where does that cross the line? ...and how does one in the face of complete ignorance and/or blatant disregard, go about turning the tide, without making these individuals understand that excessive light is so "bad" on many levels, (light pollution, utility costs, waste of resources) without putting a negative spin on the situation?

...post edited for content...

Charles



Hi Charles,

I understand your frustration with the situation, believe me, you have a sympathetic audience here. The key, if your particular situation is entirely unacceptable, is to take action to get it corrected. A potential list of tactics to use in a residential type situation might be : (neighbors)

1) strike up a friendly conversation and work the lights into the conversation. Don't mention astronomy at first if you don't feel comfortable doing so. Concentrate on how it disturbs your sleep and privacy by entering your windows. Most neighbors will respond to a polite verbal request made during the course of an otherwise friendly conversation. That might solve the issue of a single neighbor and his/her offending light.

2) If the neighbor is hostile to your suggestions, then closely examine your side of the story and look for "selling points" to use during step 3. Selling points are anything you can use to legally demand action - lights entering your bedroom or house windows, glare from them entering your eyes as you pull up into your driveway, etc.

3) Contact the city/county and file a complaint against the neighbor with the blinding light. This will be either with the zoning board, utility department or perhaps the police/sheriff. State your case, stick to your guns, and demand positive resolution.

4) If #3 doesn't work, then settle in for a long civil battle. Educate yourself, rally your resources, and approach the local legislative body and demand dark-sky friendly laws/regulations. Change the system.

5) While waiting for #4 to work out, invest in some light blocking blinds, an observatory building, an observing hood, and possibly access/ownership to a piece of property outside of town to use as an observing site. Network with others locally and find a "dark site" and use it - a few good nights under some truly dark skies is good medicine for the light pollution blues.

6) stay positive and be vocal. Discuss the issue with strangers and educate people. Be polite and be firm.

Regards and clear dark skies,

MikeG
 

#4 Joe Lalumia

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 09:18 PM

Great post by Glassthrower.

I would propose the most persuasive argument--- "SAVING money". Utilities rates are NOT going to come down. Five years from now we will be talking about the cheap 13 cents per kilowatt rates of today. Cities are always looking for ways to save fixed costs.

Joe
 

#5 2682

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 06:58 PM

Don't mention astronomy at first if you don't feel comfortable doing so. Concentrate on how it disturbs your sleep and privacy by entering your windows.


This portion of your post is just not good advice for two reasons:
1. Giving false reasons puts one in a bad position if the falsely stated reason is addressed, but not in a manner that takes care of one's real concern. And, in this case, light entering the bedroom can easily be blocked by a curtain. I would be wondering if my neighbor is trying to start something or is being deceptive with me if I was approached with this stated problem. And, I'd be right.
2. In this particular case, the false reason actually is raising the stakes. It is MUCH more personal to assert that another is interfering with one's sleep than with one's astronomy. I would say if one does not feel comfortable bringing up astronomy, then don't make up another reason, especially a poor one.
 

#6 islandsteve11

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 09:14 AM

Props to Glassthrower for a rational and balanced approach that takes into consideration all sides of the issue. Your attitude is well considered and is most likely to be recieved in a gentle and non-confrontal way by those unfamiliar with light pollution issues. :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow:

It's far superior and more effective than the "passionate" approach of many activists.
 






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