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Question about localized LP

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#1 Creedence

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:10 PM

I am finally moving the family out of the suburbs and bought what I thought would be an astronomer’s dream- a 7 acre plot of land in a rural gated community. Construction starts in a couple months.

As I was showing the neighborhood to my parents yesterday. We met the couple who will end up being our neighbors. The guy is fine, but the lady is my worst nightmare. People move out to the country for one thing: QUIET. But not them, they’re moving out there specifically so she can be LOUD. Strike 1.

She also said that she feels very threatened when the husband is traveling so “you’ll know when he’s away, because I’ll have my house lit up like a stadium”. Strikes 2 and 3.

A bit of a gripe here, but I’m spending literally $1 million to get out of the suburbs to a quiet place, and I chose the rural area for the dark skies, and that’s now messed up.

So with my whining over, what effect does light pollution from a single source have on otherwise dark skies? Is it simply a matter of placing my observatory in an area blocked from view of her house, or can I expect her house to meaningfully degrade my skies writ large, even if I’m shielded from direct view?

Thanks for the input.

#2 havasman

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:15 PM

The church behind me declared war on darkness a year ago. Based on that experience I submit that you are so screwed. Irredeemably ruined. Sell! Find something else. There is NO worthwhile observing from my home since they lit the place up like a West Texas prison.


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#3 alphatripleplus

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:17 PM

Are you primarily a visual observer or an imager? For imaging, you are unlikely to be bothered by a single localized light source near the horizon if the scope is imaging away from the neighbours. For visual, I think you need to think somewhere where the line of sight to the house is blocked. I am assuming you have some distance to the neighbours' home?



#4 Delta608

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:27 PM

Im sure there is a place somewhere on your acreage plus the acreage where her house sits away from her lights....


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#5 Creedence

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:32 PM

Thanks all for the initial replies.

I am primarily imaging, although I also roll out my visual equipment to entertain myself while the system is collecting its data.

Edit to add: It shows an SQM of 20.64. How big of a hit (obviously a very rough ballpark estimate) would I be looking at in an area shielded from the source?

Edited by Creedence, 11 January 2021 - 03:39 PM.


#6 ShaulaB

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:33 PM

She is "loud?" And properties go for a $ million plus? See if you can change lots in this development. It will only get worse when Covid is done and they invite their equally loud friends over for parties.


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#7 Creedence

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:43 PM

She is "loud?" And properties go for a $ million plus? See if you can change lots in this development. It will only get worse when Covid is done and they invite their equally loud friends over for parties.

That’s literally how she introduced herself. She said “I own a dance studio in New Jersey, so I love noise and chaos, therefore we’re buying out in the country so I can play my music loudly- including outside by my pool.”

She seriously came right out of central casting for the role of “nightmare neighbor.”

The only saving grace is that she is terrified of all the flies we have out here (the lots not yet under construction are grazing areas for cattle still). I am purchasing 2 cows for my land, so I’m hoping she’ll find that untenable and perhaps convince her husband to move back into the city from whence they came. I’m not gettting the cows for any reason related to her, but it may be my saving grace at the end of the day.

Edited by Creedence, 11 January 2021 - 03:44 PM.


#8 Mike G.

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 04:00 PM

wow, what a disappointment.  how about planting a line of poplars or white pines between you and her?  they grow fast and can take being squeezed together as a light barrier.  I would also be concerned about the noise as well however.  it's possible they are moving because of noise ordinances she was regularly violating previously.  that would certainly be an issue with me, since you will not have that option to help control her.

 

maybe you should think about a couple dozen more cows....  and a few hogs.



#9 MikeTahtib

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 04:07 PM

That does sound like a nightmare.  At least you found uot before you are in the house.  I would talk to the developer immediately.  I can understand her perspective, she wants a place where sh can live the life she wants, but even with 7 acre lots, it could still be a problem.  Are there any HOA rules in place?  How about zoning/light trespass laws?  While most people won't mind the light, many would object to the noise,at least after a certain time (maybe 10:00 or 11:00).  I suspect if the other owners find out about this, they won't be too happy either.

Is the land all flat and cleared>  Maybe if you can have them build a 12 foot tall hill between the properties, with a couple rows of tall pine trees between you, that will help some.


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#10 havasman

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 04:40 PM

Edit to add: It shows an SQM of 20.64. How big of a hit (obviously a very rough ballpark estimate) would I be looking at in an area shielded from the source?

I live in Dallas' white zone in a mostly single family home residential area. Before they went to war on darkness I regularly observed from my driveway. It was compromised but I enjoyed double stars, open clusters and the other objects urban observing allows. Then the @#&&*'s discovered cheap led panels and distributed them all around their property. The cheapest lighting "solutions" are the most destructive. Birds gave up nesting sites they'd occupied for >25 years. Whole species disappeared. There is no worthwhile observing from my driveway any more. The old SMQ-L value was @ 17.8 - 18. The glare now makes it not even matter. The light from led's rebounds off the trees, their buildings, our fences, roofs and chimneys. I have not yet configured an effective shield from the pervasive light. Your conditions may not suffer as bad a fate. But subsequent investment in your place knowing what you know now... well I'd avoid it.

 

Or you could lawyer up. But that's a path with its own problems.

 

I'm a visual observer so maybe modern filters may enable your AP. I don't know. I tried NV to solve the problem and that failed completely.

 

I wish you luck!



#11 Creedence

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 08:28 PM

Thanks again all. The feedback and discussion is very helpful. Now that I’ve had the chance to get into my meditation pose and reflect, it occurred to me that I should build no matter what, THEN make the determination. (But I do still want to know what broad impact a point source of light has on otherwise dark skies, so let’s please do continue discussing).

Odd thing at the moment in Florida is that we have a huge influx of folks from elsewhere coming down and buying homes. I assume that when they do that, they can’t wait for new construction, which (due to the Covid-driven partial closure of the processing facility for construction permits) just pushed (for the first time, perhaps ever) existing home prices higher than new construction.

Well, I live here already so I figured, take as long as you’d like Mr Builder. I’ll convert my “existing home” equity into more budget for the (long-lead time) new home which won’t be ready for another 9-11 months.

What occurred to me today, is that once my comparatively cheap “new construction” is completed, it becomes an “existing home” thereby giving me somewhat instant equity. I guess I’ll just flip it after a week or two if my domestic suburban terrorist of a neighbor is as bad as she openly admitted to being. If she’s just an overly polite and considerate person (which based on other context clues I do not believe to be the case at all), then happy days, I stay.

And a great bonus. Despite the fact that I’ll be putting a big down payment on this, I’ll still use a VA loan which requires an appraisal. Should the market tank between now and December, the newly built home won’t appraise- so no loan. And that’s not my fault so I get the deposit back. Feels like a no risk proposition to me.


So with all that business nonsense out of the way, how bad can a point source of light truly be on an otherwise dark sky assuming I can shield it well enough? And YES, a ton of trees will most certainly be a part of my solution. I’m researching the fastest growing, tall Florida trees now.

Edited by Creedence, 11 January 2021 - 09:11 PM.


#12 Creedence

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 08:40 PM

And to those with HOA suggestions, thank you! There is an HOA, and if it’s an issue I’ll certainly file a grievance there first.

My assumption is that the HOA (currently managed by the builder- not yet handed over to the community) lacks teeth. They sent me the covenants and just casually driving through as a potential owner, I’m seeing gross violations (trailers in driveways for over a month, despite overnight parking not being allowed, etc). Not a debate over HOAs or no HOAs, but one exists here and the covenants are being violated.

Edited by Creedence, 11 January 2021 - 08:41 PM.


#13 MikeTahtib

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 08:50 PM

One other thought - maybe you can convince her to use dimlights full time, and put the big brights on motion detectors.  That would tend to scare awayintruders more than full-time on lights, and would alert her and everyone else when an intrusion has taken place.  Did you mention your concerns to her?  Just wondering if she told you about her plans in response to yuor enthusiasm for the darkness, or if she has no idea, and might relent a tiny bit if she knew. 

I wonder if you can buy skunk pheremone and sprinke it all about her property. Probably not, but we can dream.


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#14 Creedence

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 09:18 PM

Mike, great point about the motion detectors. My wife (knowing my sensitivities) replies right out of the gate with “put them on motion detectors”. If I was dealing with a rational person, I’d feel good about that.

This lady was complaining about granite because she simply could not help herself from burning it by putting hot pans on it. Perplexed, I suggested putting a towel under the pan and she dismissed it as far too complex a solution.

Edited by Creedence, 11 January 2021 - 09:22 PM.


#15 BrooksObs

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 12:36 AM

If you ultimately decide to move into this location after all I guarantee that within the first few months you'll recognize that this was the biggest mistake of your life! You will not only be facing problems from intense glare, but also secondary illumination from any grass, bushes, trees and buildings within line of sight of your neighbor's lights being intensely illuminated. Given that this is Florida, with its summer high humidity, anticipate having the air itself become lit up to a certain degree. The higher the humidity the worse it will be. Don't expect any HOA to be on your side either. They typically support additional lighting, especially if the neighbor's wife feels insecure about darkness. And don't be surprised if she starts urging the HOA, or the town, for the installation of street lighting soon after the couple moves in. My Neighbor's wife (from the Bronx,NY) expressed that same desire when they first moved in across the street from me years ago. It would have been the only lit street within 6 miles! I nipped that in the bud right away, visiting everyone on the street before she had the opportunity to do so.

 

All in all, in the end you won't have escaped the suburbs, you'll find that they live next door to you.

 

BrooksObs



#16 jcj380

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 10:00 AM

If you ultimately decide to move into this location after all I guarantee that within the first few months you'll recognize that this was the biggest mistake of your life! 

Tend to agree.  She told you straight up that she's obnoxious.  I wouldn't assume she's lying.


Edited by jcj380, 12 January 2021 - 10:03 AM.

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#17 DSOGabe

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 01:09 PM

I agree with others. Talk to the developers and see if you can switch to another plot as far as possible. Short of building an observatory on the opposite side of your land from them and building a privacy wall or planting trees, its going to be a challenge.

Don't put too much hope in the HOA even after its transferred to the residents-she'll probably want and get seat on it and there goes your chances of getting it to assist you.  



#18 MJB87

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 02:50 PM

I'm probably an outlier here but it might be worth thinking about the long term. How likely is this person to (1) stay married, (2) be content to live in this semi-remote area, and (3) have a spouse who does not relocate for work, taking her with him. She may be gone in a matter of years.


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#19 Matt_Lily

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 05:27 PM

I live in the suburbs in Iowa. My estimated Bortle scale is 5. 

 

Luckily for me the street behind my house has no streetlights. For the months October - April, I have a fairly dark sky. So during the winter months, I can go outside early evening with pretty decent conditions. My next door neighbor has an annoying house light, but I can cup my hand to block it as I view through the lens of my telescope.During the late spring - mid- fall have to contend with stadium style lights that illuminate three softball fields across the street that is behind our house for a couple of nights a week until about 10:30 pm frown.gif  I can tolerate that because in the summer months I do most of my stargazing past this time any way.

 

Based on my anecdotal observations, there seems to have been an explosion in recent years of people obsessed with outdoor lighting- solar powered landscape lights, elaborate and blinding outdoor house lights, house accent lights to illuminate one's house, hair trigger motion sensor lights, etc.  Because of this it seems that having a rural residence does not guarantee localized light pollution.  



#20 alphatripleplus

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 05:43 PM

Knowing what you know, I would be tempted to see if the builder can find another lot in the development and (if it is adjacent to existing homes) talk to those neighbours about their lighting habits. 


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#21 Creedence

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 08:30 PM

Okay, I just got off the phone with the builder. There are a few lots still available. They’ll have less acreage, but may still be worth checking out, so I’ll do that this week. Unfortunately they’re all more expensive than the lot I have now.

Another option I have is to move the house over another 100’ or so giving me a bit more distance from hers. That could give me about 400’ spacing from her house.

I was also told that they are snowbirds, so it’s possible the house could be vacant half the time- though that would mean they are here in the winter which is our prime viewing time.

#22 jcj380

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Posted 13 January 2021 - 08:03 AM

I was also told that they are snowbirds, so it’s possible the house could be vacant half the time- though that would mean they are here in the winter which is our prime viewing time.

Or it'll be occupied by VRBO / AirBNB short-term renters?  Maybe your HOA doesn't allow that.



#23 Creedence

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Posted 13 January 2021 - 10:45 AM

What are your collective thoughts on this idea?  In the image, mine would be the red parcel, theirs is the yellow.  They told me they intend to move their house back, deeper into their lot.  From a noise perspective, that may work to my advantage as it would be their garage facing me and separating us from the living area of their house.  Also, I bet I'd be better insulated from any sound coming off their pool out back.  From a light perspective, I'm guessing that my immediate backyard area would be illuminated, and I would mitigate that with a healthy wall of vegetation on the far side of that little lake.

 

Beyond the vegetation though, I'm thinking I could have a barn constructed at the Northern most boundary of the lot and either incorporate an observatory capability within that, or just plop an exploradome on the backside of the barn in its shadow.  That puts the observatory about 700-800' away from " The Stadium"

 

Thoughts on the feasibility of all that?  Or does the growing consensus hold that I should go back to the drawing board on the lots?  (The downside to the latter course of action is that I'll end up on 3 acres rather than 7 and there is a meaningful price increase.

 

 

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#24 Delta608

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Posted 13 January 2021 - 01:26 PM

I think its pretty awesome that your not yet next door neighbor has not even built next door to your empty lot, but has already moved into your head...Maybe she is playing you like a fiddle and actually wants your lot....



#25 Creedence

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Posted 13 January 2021 - 01:38 PM

Lol, she definitely caught my attention, no question there. They contracted on their lot first, so no concerns that they wanted mine. The poor husband looks pretty defeated, AND both sales agents shot me knowing looks as we were talking. While I joked earlier it was as if she had come right of our central casting for the role, I feel pretty confident that she’s going to be interesting to live by. But hey, at $1 million, you have to make sacrifices right?

Any thoughts on shielding light from a house behind a barn positioned as depicted? Effective, waste of money, indifferent?


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