Conflicted by Light

Conflicted by Light

As an Astronomer, I am very pro-dark sky. As a person in favor of migrating birds, baby sea turtles, and general good health, I’m anti-light pollution. As a human who wants to see our planet’s environmental crash slow down and reverse, I’m in favor of energy conservation. Generally, these three sets of opinionated voices in my head work in tandem to encourage people to use down-pointed lights that contain orange-ish low-pressure sodium lamps. When those don’t work, I turn to the web site of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) where they list lighting, even Antique Street Lamps that would match my historic neighborhood’s idea of good landscaping. Unfortunately, a new light on the block is going to bring conflict to the normally collaborative voices. That new light is the ulta-luminous white LED. Taking 63 watts to produce 8500 lux, and lasting roughly 30 years, these brand new lights are every energy savers dream come true. Municipalities are considering switching to this new new tech toy to save city resources. Unfortunately, white LEDs (see image left, credit: CREE lighting) are every dark sky dreamer’s worst nightmare.

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