I pursue my passion for Astronomy, and particularly, Astrophotography, on those fairly rare transparent nights in Central Ohio. I don't have a permanent facility in the shrinking pocket of dark skies, so I'm forced to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to create my images. Most of the time, I have to work from a snoburban site and the single greatest scourge is:
Here is my screed:
The caramel glow of wasteful and inefficient outdoor lighting extends some 40 degrees into the sky in every direction around the horizon. The background on this page roughly approximates the appearance of the nighttime sky from my backyard. The lights shining into my property from my neighbors' houses is also a major nuisance. How would you like it if your neighbor played heavy metal music at 120 decibels and directed it towards your house on a constant basis? Heck, neighbors of the local amphitheater, a concert venue drawing all kinds of acts, who are residents of the City of Westerville, have complained for years about the noise from performances staged at the amphitheater. The lack of concern for their quality of life on the part of the City of Columbus (where the amphitheater is located) and the owners of the venue underscore the frustration of those seeking to contain nuisances.
Light pollution is equivalent to being subjected to loud noise on a continual basis.
Lately, the City of Columbus indicated that it would permit the City of Westerville to enforce its noise ordinances against the amphitheater. Westerville proposes to amend its ordinance to allow city officials to shut down a show if the noise level exceeds certain limits.
With this much concern raised over noise pollution that affects a relatively minute number of people, it's surprising that the problems of light pollution fail to generate the same level of action.
Exterior lighting as a deterrent to crime is a hoax.
Inefficient outdoor lighting is not much different from noise pollution. It is a waste of energy and resources. It can also increase danger instead of enhancing security. In a recent criminal act against my property, the perpetrators unscrewed the light bulbs on my security lights (which are equipped with a timer and motion sensor), thereby eliminating any benefit of "security" lighting. So much for lighting as a deterrent to crime. In September, 2008, the remnants of Hurricane Ike tore through Central Ohio, leaving large parts of the city in darkness for 72 hours. The lack of outdoor lighting did not result in mass chaos, rampant crime or any other unusual mayhem. So much for the idea that greater outdoor lighting reduces crime. For a well written, scholarly article debunking this myth, see
Energy and Resources: When the electric company complained about record usage in a June, 1998, heat wave, and threatened brownouts if customers did not reduce consumption, nobody said a thing about undertaking sound conservation measures as a means of solving this problem. Full cut-off lighting conserves power, since the efficiency of the light fixture reduces the amount of kilowatt hours consumed. Air pollution (sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired electric generating plants) and acid rain could be reduced substantially. These fixtures also direct the light they produce directly on the subject, instead of horizontally directly into the eyeball. Exterior lighting, especially poorly designed streetlights, are a shocking (pun intended) subsidy of electric utilities at taxpayers' expense. It is the worst form of corporate welfare. Poorly designed streetlights waste money, needlessly consume natural resources, create road hazards, and fail to live up to promised benefits. As if to add insult to injury, we have to pay for this.
Safety and Security: Fixtures that scatter light in all directions produce blinding glare. Next time you drive down a street lit by old fashioned cobra-head light fixtures, notice how the fixtures further down the street shine light directly into the eyes, reducing their sensitivity to contrasts. If another vehicle emerged from a shadowed area, would you be able to react in time? Be careful when you drive at night, especially if it's rainy. You will notice how difficult the lane lines are to see. The dangers of inefficient street lights should be apparent.
For the homeowner, if security is the chief goal of outdoor lighting, non-cutoff fixtures reduce, rather than enhance security. Turn on your security lights, then try looking through the glare. Unless your prowler is dense enough to walk right into your light, you will not be able to get a good look through the glare. Likewise, viewing a poorly lit building from the outside poses the same problem: your eyes cannot adjust to the extreme contrast between the lit and unlit areas when the glare from the fixture shines right into it.
The Solution? Turn them off. However, that's impractical since outdoor lighting is the equivalent to a blanket and teddy bear to most people. As a compromise, replace all fixtures, public and private, with fixtures featuring full cut-off design and install energy efficient lighting elements that direct 90% or more of the emitted light energy downward. This will save energy, conserve resources, and enhance security. With the light not shining directly into the eyes, the fixture does not blind the person. The eyes adjust to extreme contrast better if the illuminated area is the only thing the light is shining on.
Esthetically speaking, shotgun lighting destroys the beauty of the night sky, making observing and astrophotography difficult, if not impossible. Light pollution literally drowns out the dimmer stars and objects, like the Milky Way, Andromeda Galaxy, Lagoon Nebula in Saggitarius, the great Globular Cluster in Hercules, the Beehive open star cluster in Cancer, and many others too numerous to list. Light pollution leaves only the moon, planets and brightest of stars visible to the naked eye. There are many more treasures of the night sky that light pollution erases.
Long before television, radio, motion pictures, and the electric light, people entertained themselves by drawing pictures in the sky. With their imaginations, people created pictures of their favorite characters, and told stories about them. These legends survived down through the ages. "Hercules" has made it to TV. It's a shame that from my backyard, on an average evening in Columbus, I can barely make out the constellation Hercules to show my children.

The stars. They really are beautiful. We never look at them anymore.” --Men in Black, 1998.

March 20, 2000. As if Central Ohio needs more strip centers and dense apartment housing, the Kingman Hill district, located about 1 km south of Perkins Observatory, may be in its last throes as open space. A syndicate who wants to accelerate the change in the character of the area, annexed the land to the City of Delaware from Liberty Township in order to take advantage of a more lenient attitude towards uncontrolled growth they perceived on the part of the City of Delaware. Ohio State University abandoned the "Big Ear" radio telescope to golf course developers who dismantled the famous structure and bulldozed the site. The golf course developers aren't to blame for the Big Ear's demise, and their activites have little, if any, impact on the observatory's mission. As a matter of fact, they have been most accomodating to Perkins, allowing OWU to maintain an observatory dome on the course for use by astronomers.

November, 2010. Ten years later, Perkins Observatory still struggles against the tide of snoburban development. Although it has successfully avoided having a big box retailer move next door, there is no guarantee that once the current economic climate becomes more favorable for real estate development, a renewed effort to build light polluting strip malls will begin. To its credit, the City of Delaware is sensitive to the cultural and scientific heritage that Perkins Observatory symbolizes, but tax revenue frequently triumphs over such considerations.

Check out the International Dark Sky Association for more info.

Enough with the sermon, show me the pics!