Understanding Light Pollution

"There are lots of people who understand the importance of seeing dark sky and its reminder to us that we are actually on a planet traveling through space. If we cannot see stars then we are sheltered from this concept and begin to forget. I know people who live in Harwich Port and never leave Main Street. If you donít walk a block over to the beach you can forget you live near the ocean."
Tom Leach, CCAS

Help save the Night Sky. Please get involved!

Click to read a National Geographic article on effects of light pollution The Cape skies for star viewing grow worse as towns continue to add poorly shielded public and commercial all night outdoor lighting. Light pollution can be both direct (glaring bulb) and indirect (scattering light into the night sky). A third, version is bounce lighting off the ground. Examples include parking lighting at malls, high pressure sodium wall packs and even unshielded outdoor home lighting. What may seem a convenience for one homeowner could well be a annoyance for the neighborhood. Most egregious examples are cellphone towers disguised as enormous flagpoles lit by powerful mercury vapor spot lights burning out wholesale areas of sky. Further, reports now show, more than adequate night lighting does not necesarily mean reduced crime.

We need to talk more about how CCAS can get involved locally in controling this problem. Please join our Yahoo Group to participate in this active discussion or you can learn more at the Global at Night Project where you can see how dark skies on Cape Cod stack up against the rest of the world. Doing your part to save the night sky will help. Get involved with local government to make a change.

Talking Points on Light Pollution

  • Nationally 1/3 of our energy costs goes to lighting
  • National expense for this lighting is $6 Billion
  • A 100 watt light bulb left on burns 1/2 ton of coal which produces 700 lbs of carbon dioxide per year
  • RPI study found night lighting does not deter crime
  • East Hampton, NY proved "glare bomb" street lighting actually skyrocketed auto accident rate by 40% instead of helping
  • Full cut-off lighting means a fixture where no light goes above the horizon
  • Cobra head street lighting fixtures and 'glare bomb" parking lot lighting are still common on Cape Cod.
  • This lighting has dangerous and disruptive side effects for: insects, bird and amphibean migration, navigation, plant blooming and trees lossing their leaves all effected by the period of light and not temperature

    YARMOUTH, MA - (Pictured above) By way of example. Far less than an ideal setting, light pollution robs the northern horizon at the Werner Schmidt Observatory located behind Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School off Station Avenue in South Yarmouth, Mass. Also notice, the building and dome reflect the "glare-bomb" lighting that is from the mercury vapor lights on the back of the school building. The observatory staff can control (turn off) other outdoor lighting from the maintenance bulidings at the rear.

    The Cape Cod Commission now recognizes the importance of gaining control over outdoor lighting for area plans when reviewing plans for and DCPC (District of Regional Planning Concern)





    Light Pollution Education & Associations:

    (Back to top Light Pollution Contents List)

    Light Pollution Articles:

    (Back to top Light Pollution Contents List)

    Lighting Ordinances and Laws:

  • Beginners Guide to Lighting Regulation
  • California Department Of Transportation Lighting Manual
  • Connecticut State Statute #13a-110a for State funded highways
  • New Mexico Proposed Outdoor Lighting Control Act of 1999
  • New York State Assembly Bill A06357
  • Texas Local Government Code
  • Texas Regulation of Certain Outdoor Lighting
  • Proposed Mass. state legislation (Night-Outdoor-Lighting Bill)
  • Info on Michigan House of Representatives Bill 4254
  • Michigan House Bill 4254 Legislative Analysis
  • New Hampshire proposed statewide lighting law
  • California IDA Listing of Lighting Ordinances - Jack Sales Site
  • Retrofitting Maui's Street Lights with Fully Shielded Luminaires -- 1-8-98
  • Mankato MN City Lighting Code
  • Town of Brighton, MI Lighting Ordinance NO. 143
  • Existing Light Pollution Ordinances -- UMI Lowbrow
  • Useful Information from EOLC
  • Resolution Adopted by the 23rd General Assembly of the IAU -- 8-30-99
  • Albemarle County Virginia
  • Warren County Virginia
  • Limerick Township Pennsylvania
  • East Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania
  • North Coventry Township, Pennsylvania
  • East Caln Township, Pennsylvania
  • West Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania
  • (Back to top Light Pollution Contents List)

    Outdoor Lighting Information and Manufacturers:

    (Back to top Light Pollution Contents List)


    Contact CCAS