Jump to content


Photo

On Blocking Neighborhood Lights

  • Please log in to reply
36 replies to this topic

#1 Dave Lee

Dave Lee

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 442
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA

Posted 07 September 2013 - 08:03 PM

I'm returning to astronomy, building a permanent pier in my back yard ("Yellow" skies). There are very few street lights in our neighborhood, but lots of yard lights. Things aren't too bad right now, but will be much worse this winter when much of the foliage is gone.

Has anyone done anything 'easy and clever' to block specific lights? The options that I have (briefly) thought about.

1) Monk's hood (I do lots of star hopping so don't see that working well for me)

2) It would be easy to build (and put up/take down) portable screens with 4 mil plastic sheets and a PVC frame. Would work fine except on windy evenings.

3) A couple of decorative trellis walls with a climbing plant outside covering, allowing the inside to have whatever is handy to block light. This would be permanent, of course.

4) Portable screens made out of the lightest wood affordable (these things would have to be portable - too ugly to leave up)

5) There are MANY non-portable (and more expensive options - such things would have to be attractive)

In my case I have two offending lights about 200' away (they are on either side of a garage) and one (wide) offending back window about 100' away.

Other ideas/thoughts experiences out there?

Thanks.

dave

#2 CharlesW

CharlesW

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1381
  • Joined: 01 Nov 2012
  • Loc: Chula Vista & Indio, CA

Posted 07 September 2013 - 09:19 PM

I gave my neighbors a case of Heinekin to change their lights from dark sensor to motion detector. Beer is a great icebreaker.

#3 izar187

izar187

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1724
  • Joined: 02 Sep 2006
  • Loc: 43N

Posted 07 September 2013 - 10:20 PM

I'm returning to astronomy, building a permanent pier in my back yard ("Yellow" skies). There are very few street lights in our neighborhood, but lots of yard lights. Things aren't too bad right now, but will be much worse this winter when much of the foliage is gone.

Has anyone done anything 'easy and clever' to block specific lights? The options that I have (briefly) thought about.

1) Monk's hood (I do lots of star hopping so don't see that working well for me)

2) It would be easy to build (and put up/take down) portable screens with 4 mil plastic sheets and a PVC frame. Would work fine except on windy evenings.

3) A couple of decorative trellis walls with a climbing plant outside covering, allowing the inside to have whatever is handy to block light. This would be permanent, of course.

4) Portable screens made out of the lightest wood affordable (these things would have to be portable - too ugly to leave up)

5) There are MANY non-portable (and more expensive options - such things would have to be attractive)

In my case I have two offending lights about 200' away (they are on either side of a garage) and one (wide) offending back window about 100' away.

Other ideas/thoughts experiences out there?

Thanks.

dave



I observed for several years in my suburban backyard from within a screened in area made of permanent strategically strung clothes line. On these lines I hung opaque tarps, old blankets or whatever's, that I rolled or folded up and put away in my garage after each session. It was necessary to weight and/or tie down the bottoms in true windy conditions. My particular set up blocked all intrusive nearby lighting, and when combined with a head drape, hood and/or eyepatch, yielded significantly better dark adaptation than I'd imagined possible.

What I hung on the lines changed a bit, from what I first had on hand, to darker options I found at yard sales and thrift/secondhand stores. They did not need to go all they way to the ground, though some did. They did not have to be pretty, and some sections weren't, as they were only out after dark.

I eventually set aside this screened in enclosure method, when nearby commercial development whacked my sky even more. Additionally, I eventually wished for more available area of sky, with fewer trees, and no rooftop heat sinks messing up my planetary observing. These days I'm far far happier observing from a collection of successively darker rural sky and/or more open horizon sites, from ten minutes to two hours(+) away.

Which brings me around to another concept. In addition to a permanent pier in the backyard, also consider a portable pier, kept full time in the car. Then spend time in locating viable nearby open horizon and anything darker observing spots. Not one or the other, but both. Because permanent piers in the yard are the bees' knee's. And so is mobile aperture out under open and darker sky.

#4 Dave Lee

Dave Lee

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 442
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA

Posted 08 September 2013 - 07:56 AM

I can imagine situations where the best strategy would be in the 'light end' of the problem. But in this case I feel like I need to have control.

dave

#5 Dave Lee

Dave Lee

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 442
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA

Posted 08 September 2013 - 07:58 AM

The 'clothesline' concept (whether done with string/rope or a PVC structure) has promise. Thanks.

dave

#6 REC

REC

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5474
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2010
  • Loc: NC

Posted 08 September 2013 - 08:13 AM

When in my backyard, I'll take a 9' umbrella and lay it on it's side and hide behind it.

For the lights, perhaps you could offer the owner some bulbs that have shields on them and direct most of the lights down.

Good luck as you have some good ideas already.

#7 SporQ

SporQ

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 03 Sep 2013
  • Loc: Indiana, USA

Posted 08 September 2013 - 08:41 AM

Hello,

Block the worst offenders and don't worry about the rest. This what I am learning about LP.

I've made it so dark that every little LED drove me crazy and I've sat under pure white zone skies in a shaded area and I find I am just as happy there as in my dark spot in a red zone and I see just as much.

We have to live with LP. I see some people wish for power failures and the like and I just know they have no idea what it is like to go through something like that. No thank you. :)

Cary

#8 BigC

BigC

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3326
  • Joined: 29 Sep 2010
  • Loc: SE Indiana

Posted 08 September 2013 - 10:42 AM

Actually you don't see as much;it just isn't possible.

You can certainly see much,just not as much.

After an hour on the hillside 75 yards from my rural home ,without security lights turned on blazing, the sky is filled with tiny points of light the sky-spanning Milky Way and varying with the season,M42,M31(with bright center),the Lagoon and a few other nebulas visible as hazy little patches.I can even make out the three brighest nebulas sans eyeglasses!

O the contrary,at my workplace, if I step into a shaded spot ,using buildings and poles to block all the nearby parking lot lights, on the best clear night maybe one-fiftieth as many stars are visible! Binoculars reveal more,as expected.For some odd reason my employer does not view telescopic stellar observation as productive activity so little of that has been done.The nearest parking lot lights are even full-cutoff(on very tall poles).But there are numerous distant building mounted floodlights directed horizontally as in the example of bad lighting in books.

Attempt to image the Ring Nebula from nearby resulted in skyglow overwhelming the image in about 3 minutes.

#9 StarStuff1

StarStuff1

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3903
  • Joined: 01 Apr 2007
  • Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line

Posted 08 September 2013 - 11:50 AM

I have a similar problem. Initially I clamped two 8-ft wooden dowels to either side of the retaining wall area where I often reserve. Bungee cords strung tight between them. And then plastic tarps. This photo shows one of the two tarps installed.

Attached Files



#10 StarStuff1

StarStuff1

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3903
  • Joined: 01 Apr 2007
  • Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line

Posted 08 September 2013 - 12:08 PM

The time it took to set up and take down was a pain. Wind was also a hassle.

Eventually I figured out that 90% of my problem came from the two outside lights seen at the top right corner of the black screen seen here. Someone had given me a tripod that had a halogen worklight on it. (It had been knocked over and the light broken.) A four ft long piece of oak, a heavy black cloth and a bolt with a wingnut makes up my portable light blocker. It can be adjusted high or low depending if I am using a refractor or a dob. Easy to make, easy to set up and take down and it folds up compactly for storage or transport. Also it doesn't make noise if the wind ruffles it.

Attached Files



#11 jgraham

jgraham

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 13889
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Society

Posted 08 September 2013 - 12:34 PM

I do something similar. I place a long 2x4 or 1x4 on top of an 8' step ladder and drape a tarp or sheet over it.

#12 berobertsmd

berobertsmd

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 180
  • Joined: 27 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Brandon, Mississippi

Posted 09 September 2013 - 04:42 AM

I have a fenced back yard, but there are two of my neighbor's lights I need to block. I use 1" thick, 4'X8'sheets of expanded polystyrene insulation. The sheets are very lightweight, but stiff enough to stand upright, even in the wind. I put the sheet flush to the fence, and can even raise it up, if needed. Once in position, I secure the panel to the top edge of the fence with a squeeze together hand clamp. This has proved to be sufficient so far. The panels have a tongue and groove edge, so 2 can be placed side by side. They are waterproof, lightweight, and inexpensive(about $12 to $15). I can easily carry 2 panels, and 4 clamps to my garage in 1 trip. These are basically sealed, inert, plastic sheathing, so you can store anywhere.

#13 roscoe

roscoe

    curmudgeon

  • *****
  • Posts: 3516
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2009
  • Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT

Posted 09 September 2013 - 05:53 AM

How about removable fencing?
6' tall, 8' wide privacy - or stockade - fence panels at places like home depot are not expensive, and the thin-material ones are not very heavy, you might consider getting one or two, and cutting them into narrower sections - an 8' piece into thirds, for instance, and attach them back together with big hinges, like those old-fashioned folding privacy screens. You could set them up sort of zig-zaggy, or in an arc, depending on how you hinge them, and just leave them outside between uses, leaning against something or even laying on the ground (on a couple of pieces of 2x4, so they weren't actually in the dirt)
If you're putting in a pier, perhaps you could put in one or two permanent posts - like those round-edge landscape timbers - to clamp/fasten the sections to in case of wind.
R

#14 azure1961p

azure1961p

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10462
  • Joined: 17 Jan 2009
  • Loc: USA

Posted 09 September 2013 - 06:03 AM

I use metal screens normally reserved for artshows.

Pete

#15 BrettG

BrettG

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 135
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2005
  • Loc: Massachusetts

Posted 09 September 2013 - 07:43 AM

I have a 5x5 cube that is eventually going to have black-out cloth of some type on it, we are still working out how best to do it, but the frame is PVC.

When it is done, I will post pictures. It may be a little while.

#16 REC

REC

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5474
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2010
  • Loc: NC

Posted 09 September 2013 - 08:01 AM

I see some of them at homes to block the the AC units or other unsightly things like garbage cans ect. Is that what your talking about?

#17 amicus sidera

amicus sidera

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4209
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2011
  • Loc: East of the Sun, West of the Moon...

Posted 09 September 2013 - 08:46 AM

Opaque tarps can be used successfully as light shields; I documented my use of them in a series of posts here on Cloudynights a while back:

Link: My Light shield project

Fred

#18 spongebob@55

spongebob@55

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 957
  • Joined: 26 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Bergen Co. New Jersey

Posted 09 September 2013 - 08:54 AM

I want to try something my Dad did for free standing umbrellas. He cut a piece of pipe and drove it into the ground. Cleaned out the dirt from the inside and then would put the umbrella into it. I figure one could use 2 cheap galvanized top poles of metal fencing, insert them and somehow run a tarp in between the poles. When done, pull them out and store where ever. Cheap, fast and the wind won't topple them as long as you drive them down into the ground far enough/not make them too high.
I used an 8' umbrella last night, but it was too small.

#19 roscoe

roscoe

    curmudgeon

  • *****
  • Posts: 3516
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2009
  • Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT

Posted 09 September 2013 - 01:09 PM

I see some of them at homes to block the the AC units or other unsightly things like garbage cans ect. Is that what your talking about?


These:
http://www.homedepot...-Fence-Panel...

#20 lamplight

lamplight

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2590
  • Joined: 18 Sep 2012
  • Loc: western MA, U.S.

Posted 09 September 2013 - 05:29 PM

Got some heavy canvas tarps that wouldn't blow in the wind so much.. They need a strong support , used galvanized wire that stays in place.. Haven't needed to use them in summer though fortunately Light shades
Had some lighter weight material but in winter was blowing around too much

#21 Achernar

Achernar

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9163
  • Joined: 25 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA

Posted 10 September 2013 - 10:04 AM

I have made poles from 1 1/4" EMT conduit, welding eye and U-bolts to them to run lines through. In the ground, I set pieces of 1 1/2" PVC electrical conduit in concrete in the ground. The EMT poles fit snugly into the PVC conduit, and they can be inserted and removed at any time. My neighbors are nice people but sometimes their flood lights shine right into my eyes, so I made these poles and hand black Riptstop on them to block their lights. I had tried PVC pipe and Ripstop portable light screens but the wind blew them over even when I braces them with tent stakes and ropes. I am planning to make some from EMT electrical conduit that will be much stronger and higher to block the biggest problem, a street light across the street. You could certainly use this method to block out nearby lights on your land from the neighbors, and put them away when you're not observing to avoid any HOA or other busy bodies.

Taras

#22 Wmacky

Wmacky

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1933
  • Joined: 24 Nov 2007
  • Loc: Florida

Posted 10 September 2013 - 10:23 AM

I did panels, but that got old after 4 sessions, so I build a obsevatory with tall walls. That worked, but you know, I still get extremely mad as I get blinded by my neighbors electric lawn suns, so I want more! I want to install a row of those cone shaped evergreen trees all along my property line. You know, the ones that look like soilders in formation....

#23 mich_al

mich_al

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2462
  • Joined: 10 May 2009
  • Loc: Rural central lower Michigan Yellow Skies

Posted 10 September 2013 - 11:33 AM

I did panels, but that got old after 4 sessions, so I build a obsevatory with tall walls. That worked, but you know, I still get extremely mad as I get blinded by my neighbors electric lawn suns, so I want more! I want to install a row of those cone shaped evergreen trees all along my property line. You know, the ones that look like soilders in formation....


You'll need multiple rows, those lights tend to bore right thru.

#24 Dave Lee

Dave Lee

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 442
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA

Posted 15 September 2013 - 02:32 PM

I did a quick and dirty build of a light blocker. It was quick and dirty primarily because I have a bunch of deferred yard landscaping to do in this area (some of which might help the problem), and I wasn't ready to spend a bunch of money or effort. I attached some pics here.

Note that ...

1) This is built from PVC just 'stuck together' (so it is easy to take apart)

2) The fabric is 'light blocking panels' from the local dollar store. They are adequate for my problem (much of which is already reduced by other plantings)

3) Yes, I have basically built a sail. So operation in winds much above 10 mph will probably be unworkable. I can live with that on an interim basis (and in our area overnight winds are typically mild).

4)All the PVC pipe is 3/4 inch. But the corner posts are put into 1" PVC pipe that is buried maybe 18 inches into the ground. It makes the whole structure simple to dis-assemble.

5) I've got trees or roofs blocking my view of the horizon in all directions. The height of the blocking fabric is as low as it can be but still block offending light. The front was a problem, however. High enough to block the lights across the street also blocked 10 to 15 degrees of my ssouthern view. So the two front corner posts can be raised (or lowered) by inserting/removing a spacer into the 1 inch PVC that holds the corner posts.

6) At this point the rear of the light blocker is open. The myrtle hedge behind me is quite thick/dense and the house on the other side has few windows facing me.

Good enough for now (based on one short, early morning viewing session earlier today).

dave

Attached Files



#25 Dave Lee

Dave Lee

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 442
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA

Posted 15 September 2013 - 02:34 PM

Guess I can only do one pic at a time. Here is the look inside from the rear (right now the rear is open).

dave

Attached Files








Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics