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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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Dave Lee
sage


Reged: 02/14/13

Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA
On Blocking Neighborhood Lights
      #6068532 - 09/07/13 09:03 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


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CharlesW
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/02/12

Loc: Chula Vista & Indio, CA
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: Dave Lee]
      #6068627 - 09/07/13 10:19 PM

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

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izar187
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 09/02/06

Loc: 43N
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: Dave Lee]
      #6068689 - 09/07/13 11:20 PM

Quote:

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.


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Dave Lee
sage


Reged: 02/14/13

Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: CharlesW]
      #6069067 - 09/08/13 08:56 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


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Dave Lee
sage


Reged: 02/14/13

Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: izar187]
      #6069070 - 09/08/13 08:58 AM

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

dave


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REC
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: Dave Lee]
      #6069087 - 09/08/13 09:13 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.


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SporQ
member


Reged: 09/03/13

Loc: Indiana, USA
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: REC]
      #6069141 - 09/08/13 09:41 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


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BigC
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/29/10

Loc: SE Indiana
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: SporQ]
      #6069353 - 09/08/13 11:42 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.


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StarStuff1
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/07

Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: BigC]
      #6069459 - 09/08/13 12:50 PM Attachment (42 downloads)

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.

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StarStuff1
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/07

Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #6069482 - 09/08/13 01:08 PM Attachment (29 downloads)

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.


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jgraham
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Soci...
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #6069525 - 09/08/13 01:34 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.

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berobertsmd
super member


Reged: 09/28/09

Loc: Brandon, Mississippi
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: jgraham]
      #6070712 - 09/09/13 05:42 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.

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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: berobertsmd]
      #6070754 - 09/09/13 06:53 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


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azure1961p
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: roscoe]
      #6070762 - 09/09/13 07:03 AM

I use metal screens normally reserved for artshows.

Pete


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BrettG
member


Reged: 08/13/05

Loc: Massachusetts
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: azure1961p]
      #6070843 - 09/09/13 08:43 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.


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REC
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: roscoe]
      #6070863 - 09/09/13 09:01 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?

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amicus sidera
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: Dave Lee]
      #6070912 - 09/09/13 09:46 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


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spongebob@55
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 12/26/11

Loc: Bergen Co. New Jersey
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: Dave Lee]
      #6070929 - 09/09/13 09:54 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.


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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: REC]
      #6071398 - 09/09/13 02:09 PM

Quote:

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.com/p/Barrette-6-ft-x-8-ft-SPF-Flat-Stockade-Fence-Panel...


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lamplight
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/18/12

Loc: western MA, U.S.
Re: On Blocking Neighborhood Lights new [Re: roscoe]
      #6071854 - 09/09/13 06:29 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


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