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BLISS in St.Helens ?!

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#1 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 03:26 PM

Hi, my home town St.Helens, NW England, is dimming some lights under a new scheme called BLISS as a trial (yellow low pressure Sodium "SOX" 35 Watt, NO shielding, many thousands of them, and high pressure Sodium "SON-T" 70 Watt, cobra head types, no shielding again, many more thousands of them) after 10pm in some areas, and changing to various different designs of LED lights in some areas.

The whole thing is called BLISS (Better Lighting In Sustainable Streets). Here's some pictures ;-

http://www.bliss-str...cts/st__helens/

I went and looked at one of their LED lit streets and it's very bright LED light, shining almost straight down, with almost none going onto the houses (houses are near dark).

Since there are about 40,000 street lights in our town of 180,000 people, and the scheme has changed maybe 1000 lights approx so far, there has been no detectable change in the night sky from where I am in the last couple of years that BLISS has been operating.

Since I was 13 and was given a cheap and nasty 60mm refractor that someone had got bored of, and I became interested in practical visual Astronomy, I have noticed that back then the sky from my home seemed to be noticeably darker, I remember seeing a blacker background in my 10x50 Pentax bino's when viewing the Pleiades / M45).

These days (I'm 38 now) I notice that the sky is really very bright at night when it's clear with no Moon, and quite orange to the South (over the centre of St.Helens) when it's clear. I have picked out a mag. 4.6 star at about 60 degrees altitude in the South West so it's not impossible to observe or anything, but it's a rediculously bright sky (compared to my dark garden!).

On Google Earth / Galleries / Nasa / Earth City Lights, my sky is only a shade off white compared to e.g. London and compared to the local St.Helens places of Blackbrook / Parr / Sutton. I'm in Hillbrae Avenue, Moss Bank, 2 1/2 miles to the North of St.Helens town centre, at 130 feet altitude, 1/2 way up a hill.

I notice that my friend Jon's house on the top of a hill at Billinge (400 feet elevation, 3 times higher than here) has a *very* noticeably quite darker Southern sky compared to where I am, even though his area is only a *very* slight shade less white than here on Google Earth City Lights. He is however maybe 2 miles North of me, further away from the lights of Pilkington glass (ironically, well it would be if they actually made any optical glass for telescopes, which they don't) and the centre of St.Helens.

Unfortunately the BLISS scheme and the dimming of lights would appear to be only a trial over 3 years approx (2009 - 2012) and only of a fairly small scale compared to the whole town. I have watched from here (where I get a good view of quite a large area of St.Helens) and not a single light dims after 10pm or midnight yet near where I am :(

I remember a few years ago the local substation transformer blew out with a BANG at the bottom of the hill, and all the lights went off for a couple of miles in every direction :)
BUT I was astonished to see that it made no difference whatsoever to the sky glow, the clouds over head where still lit up mid orange :confused: :bawling:

A thought occured to me last night when I was trying to see M41 (which is quite a sizable, pretty cluster in my Meade SN102) below Sirius, 15 degrees above the Southern horizon, when I was depressed to see that the background sky was mid to bright orange, that in future with the LED white lights, the background sky will be white, and thus the contrast between the white stars and the background will be even LOWER! :foreheadslap:

YES I have gone and talked with the St.Helens Council, 4th Floor, Wesley House, Environmental Protection, and spoken to Mark Davies the Borough Lighting Engineer on 3 separate occasions over several years, attempting to make my views about unnecessary upward light and orange sky glow heard, and they were only partly sympathetic at the time (about 8 years ago). Also I have written e-mails to them since then and got replies but nothing much changed. There have been a few full cut off (i.e. glare reduced / uplight shielded) lights put in on several roads that I have seen, but it's very rare in St.Helens.

15 years ago the lights at the front of my house were Mercury Vapour, unshielded, cylindrical tall thing with flat top cap, emitting greenish light. Then they changed them all to SON-T 90 Watt (70 Watt + 20 Watt Electro-Mechanical switch gear) HPS Sodium. Recently (last few weeks) they changed them all again (but kept the columns this time) to Metal Halide or something (greenish glow) with 2 long tiger stripes along the road. AND STILL NO SHIELDED LIGHTS. Odd, I would have thought they would have used LEDS! Our road was not part of the BLISS scheme as far as I know. No dimming happens in our road.

I was rather hoping that the BLISS dimming was going to be extended borough wide, but it appears that the dimming is going to take quite a while to be implemented borough wide :bawling: if at all.

I must admit the change in the street lighting in the BlISS trial has been quite staggering in some cases from the pictures, see ;-

http://www.google.co...source=web&a...

http://www.sthelens....highways/str...

http://www.apse.org....group/St Hel...

https://www.google.c...&source=web&...,d.d2k

http://www.apse.org....Paul Sanders...

#2 EverlastingSky

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 02:00 PM

Recently (last few weeks) they changed them all again (but kept the columns this time) to Metal Halide or something (greenish glow) with 2 long tiger stripes along the road. AND STILL NO SHIELDED LIGHTS. Odd, I would have thought they would have used LEDS!


That would be very regressive if they really did go back to Metal Halide and not LED. I'd be really curious to find out just what type light they are.

That was a nice well written and informative "ramble" of a post! I like reading about the LP issues people are dealing with in different regions / countries. Interesting links too.

#3 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 04:16 PM

Here are 2 pic's of the newly installed street lights outside my house (I live on a fairly steep hill). They are not even part of this new BLISS project, so they aren't dimmed after 12 midnight!

https://picasaweb.go...ingOnHillbra...

They had only installed them on the side of the road nearest my house when I took these 2 pix. I am standing outside the front of my house in the road. The new lights actually have a green tint to the eye, not the white that appears in these photo's (although they are a much "whiter" light than the old ones). You can see the old 70W + 20W control gear SON-T high pressure Sodium ones also on the other side of the road that they replaced the next night. The new lights are (I believe) Metal Halide. They are on the existing columns and even appear to use the same glass bowls (which hang down).

The old and the new lights are way overly bright and shine straight in my eyes when I'm driving from far away, like most of St.Helens' street lights, which is annoying.

Can't understand why people don't want just a soft, rather dimmer light, enough to see for driving but not glaringly stupidly bright.

Also the new lights should have been SHIELDED to prevent glare sideways and upwards. Note how you can see a large amount of upspilled light going into my camera lens (and into the sky) from the lights lower down the hill... :tonofbricks:

Don't be fooled by the "small" number of lights in the background of this picture with narrow field of view. If I look out of my front bedroom window and out of my landing window and out of my back bedroom window I can see a very large number of orange Sodium lights all across the North and West of St.Helens, even in the areas which are supposed to be a little rural. The level of light pollution is sickening. Especially from the glaring lights of British Oxygen Company (BOC) and Pilkington at Cowley Hill and in the town centre. I will take a photo of the night sky from here shortly to show what it looks like.

Just learned from this web page that the BLISS project for street light replacement / dimming will end in 2014 in St.Helens ;-

http://www.nweurope...._detail&id=3870

PS found another link for the project ;-

http://moderngov.sth... BLISS Stree...

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#4 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 12:17 AM

Found out some more of what St.Helens council is up to in 2012 / 2013 ;-

See sections below of the following PDF, plus look at section J ;-

"Lighting Schemes
3.2.3 The Capital Lighting Schemes are based on supporting the Better Lighting in Sustainable Streets (BLISS) project. The majority of the schemes in BLISS have now been completed and this year’s programme of works completes the project.
3.2.4 The BLISS project researches how energy efficient lighting can be delivered, without impacting on crime and road accidents whilst still maintaining public
acceptability.
3.2.5 The project, which was approved by Executive on 24 June 2009, will have obtained ERDF funding of €1,500,936 over a period of 6 years (until April 2014), with
St Helens providing similar match funding.
3.2.6 The proposed street lighting schemes are included at Appendix I. They are selected due to their ability to deliver significant energy savings, efficiently and
satisfy social and demographic criteria. They also satisfy the outputs contained within the ERDF bid document.
3.2.7 The priority for selection of schemes is to gain energy efficient replacement, as early as possible. Improving energy efficiency will provide early benefits to the carbon management of street lighting."

http://moderngov.sth...F.aspx?ID=12661

Looks like this is going to be a very slow process with little change until I am maybe another 25 years older :bawling:

On the up side, my Aunt Yvonne and Uncle John just came back from staying at my Cousin Jacqueline's house at Broughton Beck, Cumbria, near Ulverston. I asked my aunt if she had ever looked up when she was at Jacqueline's house and did it have the orange glow in the sky that St.Helens has? And can you only see a few stars against an orange sky?

She said no, there is no orange glow there, it is all black sky at night, and there are a ton of stars visible. I suddenly felt sick in the stomach with rage and sadness and jealousy :bawling:

I've never seen a dark sky before ever in my life, I have got to see one soon otherwise I may go mad...

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#5 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 04:11 PM

Well here is a view from Hillbrae Avenue, St.Helens where I live, showing the extent of the light pollution. It has been cloudy for 3 weeks and just went clear tonight when I took these pic's with a Canon 300D out of the upstairs windows.

The photo's track from left to right i.e. starting by looking out of the Southern facing landing window and then looking round to the right and the last pictures are about NNW and are out of the back bedroom window. Believe me, you don't want to see the view out of the front bedroom window, the street lights are horrendous.

Exposure is 0.3 sec, ISO 1600, F3.5 widest iris opening on the standard 18-35mm lens (at 18mm, widest angle setting). You can see the white glow on the 1st picture which is the rugby stadium at Langtree park in the town centre of St.Helens, and the amount of bright orange light that Pilkingtons at Cowley Hill is giving out upwards into the sky (if I was to take the photos from the top of the hill, you would see the white lights streaming towards you from Pilk's at Ravenhead)

Finally, THIS IS HOW THE CAMERA CAPTURED IT (RAW). To my eyes it's way brighter. But if I use a longer shutter then I can't manually hold it without burring. So later I have adjusted some pic's in a new later album to show what it actually looks like to the non-dark adapeted eye! But in the meantime here's the raw unedited pic's ;-

https://picasaweb.go...FromStHelens...

Notice how the sky dramatically drops in light pollution as I pan round from South (towards St.Helens town centre) to North (across open fields and hills)...

Just after I took these pic's I went outside and looked and it was a clear sky in all directions.

I have seen a mag. 4.6 star with my unaided eyes at 45 degrees altitude on a good night, towards the South, ironically. Maybe mag 4.8 at Zenith then, I suppose.

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#6 EverlastingSky

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 04:30 PM

Very much like the skies in my location. Time to get into Planetary imaging I think :grin:

#7 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 04:49 PM

Very much like the skies in my location. Time to get into Planetary imaging I think :grin:


Unfortunately the above is how the camera captured it (raw). To my eyes it's way brighter. But if I use a longer shutter then I can't manually hold it without burring. So later I have adjusted some pic's in a new later album to show what it actually looks like to the NON-dark adapted eye!, and here they are ;-

https://picasaweb.go...FromStHelens...

As Jeremy Clarkson would say of the orange sky (if he was an astronomer LOL) "Now that's annoying". And as to putting a shield over every light so the light goes downwards, "How hard can it be?", as he also says!

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#8 Tonk

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:16 AM

To my eyes it's way brighter. But if I use a longer shutter then I can't manually hold it without burring


If you haven't got a tripod put the camera on a wall or similar. Most cameras have a timed delayed shutter (to take pictures of self) and a max shutter of 30 seconds so you should be able to to take steady long duration images. If you can set the ISo value try ISO 400 or 800 other than the stock ISO 100

#9 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:37 PM

Found one more PDF showing the lighting units and costs in St.Helens ;-

http://www.google.co...source=web&a...

(ignore the "Brussels, Belgium" part, it's only about St.Helens. The project is being administered by Europe!)

I have used the classique.kml in the link that you follow to below to see that the light pollution from here where I am is quite a bit worse than at my friend Jon H's house where he has an 8" LX90 at Newton Road, Billinge, St.Helens, UK, about 1.5 miles away, since he is in a deep magenta area and I am in a grey area and my Southern sky (where the interesting stuff is!) is grey-white and his Southern sky is deep magenta color coded on the map! (.kml is a Google Earth link) ;-

http://www.cloudynig...5604174/page...

http://www.avex-asso...d=2754#download

(under the "donate" button)

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#10 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 02:30 PM

Well it seems I found some new info. on what St.Helens Council are doing, V4 of the brochure was released showing more areas of St.Helens undergoing dimming etc. Mostly in 2012 (news emerges slowly!) ;-

http://www.bliss-str...1

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#11 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:55 PM

I just found a new scheme announced in the local St.Helens Reporter newspaper, where it mentions that St.Helens has 23,500 street lights (half the number I thought!) and that energy costs have spiralled from 460K to 1.3M Pounds (money) in 10 years!

http://www.sthelensr...-on-street-l...

http://www.sthelens....nergy-and-re...

They want to replace some of them with "white light energy efficient bulbs" (Metal Halide) or LED's. Oh dear. I can't filter those out.

This is a 1.7Million Pounds scheme, so that may cover a large proportion of those 23,500 street lights that are still using orange / yellow Sodium lights.

Maybe St.Helens Council will do the smart thing and replace the old unshielded lights with new ones so the light doesn't stream up into the sky? I doubt it.

I simply must contact the Council and see what they have to say about the shielding and get some more details about the scheme. Will report back if I hear anything useful.

This is in addition to the BLISS scheme, it seems.

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#12 George N

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 07:05 PM

[
They want to replace some of them with "white light energy efficient bulbs" (Metal Halide) or LED's. .......Maybe St.Helens Council will do the smart thing and replace the old unshielded lights with new ones so the light doesn't stream up into the sky? ..... Alistair G.


I bet that they do use shielded light fixtures. I don’t think that they can just replace the bulbs, and all the new LEDs are shielded. If they’re smart, they’ll also reduce the number if lights, or reduce the brightness to the level needed.

As for color…. You can discuss that with them, but just cutting the amount of light going up will help a lot.

#13 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 06:46 PM

They want to replace some of them with "white light energy efficient bulbs" (Metal Halide) or LED's. .......Maybe St.Helens Council will do the smart thing and replace the old unshielded lights with new ones so the light doesn't stream up into the sky? ..... Alistair G.

I bet that they do use shielded light fixtures. I don’t think that they can just replace the bulbs, and all the new LEDs are shielded. If they’re smart, they’ll also reduce the number if lights, or reduce the brightness to the level needed.You can discuss that with them, but just cutting the amount of light going up will help a lot.


Wow I can't wait for them to implement it. I used to see the Milky Way from here about 15 years ago but haven't seen it in a long time now due to the sky brightening.

I just found a St.Helens Council document detailing more about the changes here ;-

http://moderngov.sth...eport 6 Febr...

On the primary routes *through* St.Helens, they are going to change to "Extended life luminaires" (LED? - sounds like it) and a CMS ("Central Management System) to enable the lighting to be controlled remotely and for the levels to be adapted to road user requirements and road conditions" like they have already done in BlackBrook on one of the roads there where the lights dim according to traffic flows.

...and on the secondary roads the "Replacement of lamps with “white light”, designed to current lighting standards" and "Installation of electronic ballasts to reduce energy consumption" because a heck of a lot of lighting columns in St.Helens are using Electro-Mechanical 20W control gear!!

and "Replacement of 35/55w sox units" (low pressure Sodium) "with LED units designed to current lighting standards" (oh dear, can't use a Nebula filter on those!)

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#14 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:12 PM

St.Helens Council just updated their documentation to v4.2 brochure now, May 2013 instead of February 2013 above ;-

http://www.bliss-str...6

...going to examine it to see what they're up to. The Light Pollution tonight was terrible, worse than I have ever remembered it being (clouds near horizon, clear overhead, sky very obviously bright orange to the South, very nasty looking, could hardly see Corona Borealis or even Mizar and Alcor combo). They need to do something about this.

EDIT: After reading, it seems I can't find any thing about schemes for 2013 as part of the Bliss project. Also, I look out over a good few miles of the West and South of Moss Bank towards St.Helens town centre, and I can still see hundreds of street lights which are still orange and where light is shining upwards from the lamps (otherwise I wouldn't be able to see them from 1/2 way up Moss Bank hill where I am). So I don't know yet where *any* of this new 1.7 Million Pounds is being spent in this street light upgrade, it can't be happening much near where I am yet?

Best Regards,

Alistair G.

#15 nytecam

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 01:49 PM

Sorry to hear you news Alistair - it comes to us all if we wait ! Before
we bought our still current house 40yrs ago I returned at night to check the sky and it was 'acceptable' with summer Milky Way visible. Now MW all long gone but I honed my imaging technique to cope from my garden obsy :-)

#16 amicus sidera

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:57 PM

Don't expect the slightest diminution in lighting; the multitude of surveillance cameras need plenty of light to function.

All for your safety, of course...

Fred

#17 Tonk

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 08:58 AM

the multitude of surveillance cameras need plenty of light to function.


We are very modern in the UK these days and use more and more IR surveillance cameras - these don't need street lighting - just warm bodies!

#18 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 02:39 PM

Found something showing the Mouchel company's involvement in St.Helens' BLISS street lighting project ;-

http://www.mouchel.c...ainable Stre...

Cheers,

Alistair G.

#19 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:58 PM

Just found out that the St.Helens Star Newspaper is publishing some news online that there is to be a residents' consultation about the new street lighting and that it is due to be installed in East Prescot (which is odd, I never heard that term before for a Ward or area of St.Helens, since Prescot comes under the Knowsley Council's responsibility (which is part of the City of Liverpool) and nothing to do with St.Helens, (but East Prescot is close to the West of St.Helens border) and the other area to have street lighting upgrades is Whiston North, again very odd since Whiston is an area of Prescot and is again not actually part of St.Helens as far as I know but is an area close to the South border of St.Helens.

http://www.sthelenss...10643089.print/

The meeting is on Thursday, September 5 at the Robert Foulkes Centre, Brook Street in Whiston, starting at 6.15pm.

If I attend I would feel like a gatecrasher LOL since I am from St.Helens and not Prescot. But interesting for me to see that Prescot is altering presumably many hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of street lighting soon as well as St.Helens.

Prescot is however NOT known for it's use of glare shielded lights or full cut off lighting as they are properly called, I know from driving and cycling through Prescot many many times at night, the dominant lighting there is very bright 90W High Pressure Sodium on Cobra head style fitting with the glass bowl hanging down and the street lights glaring into my face from far away when I am trying to see to drive...

#20 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 06:11 PM

My local friend Jon H. just in the last month moved down to Kent to be with his family (250 miles from me), to The Drive, Gravesend, which is 13 miles to the East from the very centre of London. I asked him tonight to look out of the front door (which is mostly to the South-West, and the centre of London would be in the direction of further round to the right i.e. West from him) and look up 45 degrees and tell me what color his sky is?

His sky was partly cloudy and partly clear, the Moon was not set to rise for another 4 hours, and he looked and told me it was GREY with a bit of BLUE. Local time was around 9pm.

Wierdness :question: Since from here in St.Helens NW England, and from his old house in Billinge, both of us have always seen nothing else than orange. He said he didn't see ANY orange from where he was. His sky was "reasonably" dark he said but much brighter towards the horizon. He could see the outline of clouds very easily.

I found it very odd that his night sky is a completely different colour than mine. Maybe in the South where they are more properous, they change the street lights a LOT more often than up here, and that the majority of street lights within a 30 mile radius of his house are the newer LED or metal halide type?

Talk about a North-South divide! But not in the way I was expecting!

Regards,

Alistair G.

#21 Tonk

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:14 AM

Well from just outside Hailsham (just north of Eastbourne) the northern sky (which is where London is about 40 miles north) definately orange. Also to the south the sky is orange where Eastbourne is. No north south divide wrt to sky colour in my experience in East Sussex.

Be aware that your eye's colour receptors (cones) cease to function below a certain brightness threshold and your dim light black/white receptors (rods) take over, then the sky will look some shade of grey.

Your friend should put a camera on a tripod and run a 30 second exposure of the sky to determine the actual sky colour. Human eyes are not good devices for colour measurment under dim light conditions.

Btw the Hailsham location is about 4 miles from Herstmonceux which was the old Royal Observatory site. The orange skies are one of the reasons it was closed down and the scopes moved to the Canary Islands

#22 margin_walker

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 04:57 PM

I live about 40 miles away from St. Helens and have good skies but can see the light domes from Bolton and Manchester if I climb high enough up the hills. You can use the freedom of information act to obtain for free any recorded information from your council such as current and future lighting plans, reports, minutes of meetings where lighting has been discussed - everything that might answer any of the questions you currently have. It costs nothing but the time you take to write the email and the council have a legal obligation to provide within 20 working days any information they hold. There are some exemptions they can apply to refuse disclosure but not many that would apply to this type of information. I spend 2 days a week dealing with this aspect of law so if you want to know more send me a PM.

#23 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 04:29 PM

Well if it wasn't already bad enough for observing to the South from here, it just got a whole lot worse :bawling:.

A skybeam :shocked: :foreheadslap:appeared last night and it's there tonight also. I have just e-mailed my local St.Helens Star newspaper and I have just written a note to Environmental Protection at St.Helens Council about this ;-

______________________
Dear Sirs,

I would like to bring to your attention the skybeam that has appeared over the South of St.Helens over the last two
nights. Last night (4th April 2014) at approx. 10 pm I was observing through my telescope in my back yard when
I noticed a dancing set of white light beams over in the South direction from where I live, about 45 degrees up in the
sky and with a very large spread (about 30 degrees from left to right) and quite bright, the beams were moving
constantly over a large area of the sky. I also saw the very same lights / skybeam in the same place tonight at 9:30pm.

I don't know who is responsible for this but I thought that projecting dancing lights into the sky was outlawed on
Enviromental Grounds (the reason that I am contacting you) or illegal and at the very least it adds to the already
frankly terrible Light Pollution problem that the town centre of St.Helens has (the night sky is very bright orange tonight
although it's cloudy admittedly).

Also on a personal level I VERY strongly object to the use of the natural night sky being used for these
local "advertising" purposes.

At least the skybeam seemed to be switched off at midnight, but for people who want to enjoy the view of the sky
earlier in the evening it is a BLIGHT.

I would like to know a) what / who is responsible for this problem and b) what steps your department is going
to take to tackle this issue.

PS on another note, I would like to congratulate you for your efforts on the local street lighting in Queensway,
the FULL CUT OFF lights (fully glare shielded) are excellent and are very pleasing. Well done. I find the
road now to be easier to drive down since the lights are not all brightly glaring into my eyes simulateously
and it also does not needlessly waste energy and light up the natural environment of the night sky.

Yours Sincerely,
-----------------------

I tried walking up to the top of our hill with a camera and set of binoculars to see if I could see the source of the offending local skybeam but it was obscured and it appears to be emanating from the town centre or maybe Sutton Manor (I suspect the Dream sculpture, they tried and failed to get permission for a skybeam type thing a few years ago and the Highways Agency objected on road safety grounds - it would distract drivers on the local M62 motorway).

Well this sucks.

Regards,

Alistair G.

#24 richard7

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 09:32 PM

I remember those lights being all over the place in almost every town across the U.S.
You rarely see one now-a-days and I'm so glad.
I hope they take note of it over there.

#25 Live_Steam_Mad

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 04:31 PM

I found out what the source of the SkyBeam was, it was coming from the newly opened Glass Horse Pub in Sherdley Road, opposite the Ford showroom. It "only" lasted 3 days / nights or so.

Regards,
Alistair G.






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