So maybe rolling blackouts are a good thing.
July 14, 2001 5:13 PM   Subscribe

So maybe rolling blackouts are a good thing. "Light pollution" means we don't see the universe today that we saw it when we were kids. What's the balance between being able to see that hazy something we know as the milky way (aka "us") and safe streets, aesthetics and convenience?
posted by dchase (9 comments total)
If you are looking for an AMAZING experience that will definitely be better than anything you experienced as a kid, I recommend going stargazing at the Visitor's Center on the side of Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii. The top of Mauna Kea's the clearest place in the world to view the night sky and many top observatories dot the summit. Be sure to rent your 4x4 from Harper's because the others don't allow you to take their vehicles up the side of the volcano.
posted by gen at 5:30 PM on July 14, 2001

Anyone who's ever lived in LA can tell you all about light pollution. What's amazing is after living there for only a short while, it's so amazing to go up to Mammoth or out to the desert. More stars than you could ever imagine... <sigh>
posted by fooljay at 6:40 PM on July 14, 2001

i want a desert.
posted by clavdivs at 7:33 PM on July 14, 2001

Light pollution sucks.

The reason we have so much light pollution is because suburbanites are a bunch of pussies. In the winter, my neighbors insist on turning on about 1000 watts of outside lights on as soon as it gets dark and leaving them on for about eight hours for no reason. I hate them!

Seeing stars is cool.

So is watching an entire treeline full of fireflies blinking, while on acid.
posted by dr. zoidberg at 8:58 PM on July 14, 2001

I miss Mauna Kea.
posted by Nothing at 11:43 PM on July 14, 2001

And it takes only one idiot with one bright light to snuff out an entire neighborhood's stars, just as it take only one idiot with a leaf blower [or dirt bike or snow mobile or jet ski] to destroy everyone's lazy dreaming.
posted by pracowity at 12:41 AM on July 15, 2001

It is paranoia to have to light up ever corner all night long.

It is actually possible to reduce the amount of light that is emitted from lights, especially street lights--all that is needed is a kind of lampshade. If every light had this, city dwellers might be able to see more than two constellations...

It seems like a minor cause to some but it will be tragically sad when we can no longer see the stars.
posted by ella at 8:15 AM on July 16, 2001

It is paranoia to have to light up ever corner all night long.

Actually, for some of us, it's a lease requirement. Yep, I am required to have a lit porch light at all times.

As for the whole "I hate my neighbors for their lights/stereos/lawnmowers/compost heap/dead bodies in the basement" complaints . . . well . . . (and I'm striving for a concilatory tone, but failing) move. City dwellers railing about not being able to see the stars at night is a lot like hearing country dwellers bitch about not having a decent selection of movie theaters.
posted by Skot at 8:56 AM on July 16, 2001

> Yep, I am required to have a lit porch light at all times.

Perhaps, but you probably aren't required to have a super bright light that bathes the neighborhood and the sky above in waste light. If you have to have a bulb, make it a low-wattage bulb with a good shade over the top. It should focus all light down on the subject, which is your porch, not the surrounding ground, not the street, and certainly nothing in the air.

If you're afraid of light-sensitive interlopers and want to frighten them away with a powerful burst of your fearsome electromagnetic radiation, put a motion detector on a lamp with a stronger bulb. But use a bulb that also doesn't needlessly pollute the sky with light, attract bugs to your home, and waste electricity, which not only wastes your money, but also causes air pollution (coal fired plants) or contributes to the growing heap of waste nuclear fuel.

> City dwellers railing about ...

I wasn't talking about the city. I was talking about living out among the trees, past suburbia and the sub-urbans, but still having a few stupid neighbors who make it impossible to have darkness at night, a reasonable expectation below the arctic circle. A guy, for instance, who decides he needs his own full-height, full-strength, fully misdesigned street light in the back yard. Which matches the town's long string of equally wasteful lights running all the way down the empty road.

And light, of course, carries. Waste light from the city harms the view in the country. That's why the article discusses San Diego's waste light destroying Palomar's view 70 miles away.

If you are the annoyance, you should adjust your own behavior, not expect people to move away from you.
posted by pracowity at 11:17 PM on July 16, 2001

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