Featuring Let There Be Night and Night Vision.

Errant and excessive outdoor lighting detracts from the night.  Often dubbed light pollution, this wayward light is commonly seen as glare, spillover (including light trespass), and sky glow.  Why does it matter?  By implementing better lighting practices: 

-you save money and energy; 
-you improve safety for motorists and pedestrians; 
-you increase security and the sense of well-being;
-you benefit animal habitats; 
-you preserve the starry night;
-you improve the quality of life; 
-you lessen greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Correcting the impact of light pollution is often just a matter of awareness.  You can help prevent outdoor lighting from impinging on the night sky by aiming lights downward; by turning lights off when not in use; by covering exposed light sources with full cut-off shields; by not over-lighting; and by installing sky-friendly fixtures.  Please take pride in preserving our common heritage, for we are all stewards of the night.

Let There Be Night program features two DVDs of resources that support dark skies.  See

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For Kids!

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Projects & Activities

For Developers




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Nightscapes Around Town

The International Dark-Sky Association defines light pollution as "any adverse effect of artificial light including sky glow, glare, light trespass, light clutter, decreased visibility at night, and energy waste."  While high-quality exterior lighting can benefit society, below are some typical nightscapes around town.  (See more examples of both good and bad lighting.)

stop05223.JPG (23283 bytes) The glare from unshielded field lights overwhelms the two foreground road signs--"Stop" and "Cross Traffic Does Not Stop."  One of the most important reasons to eliminate glare is to improve motorist and pedestrian safety.
04815.JPG (39838 bytes) Bright light from a parking lot extends well beyond the fenced border into adjoining property.  The light spilling over is also called light trespass.
DSC07672.JPG (22727 bytes) wallpack07670.JPG (23364 bytes)All of the gains made with attractive shielded lights on the front facade of this shopping center are negated by the glare from wall pack lights facing the side street.
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Light pollution from across the region besmirches the night sky.

Left: Even during a midnight power outage with overcast skies and a new moon-- when the sky should be black-- light pollution from neighboring cities prevails (same scene as at right).

fire04441.jpg (29192 bytes)    The local fire department has wall pack lights that pour glare outward into adjacent homes and into the eyes of drivers along the roadway.
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A residence is up-lighted on all sides, including along the wooden fence.

Right: The flagpole and surrounding trees hint at the amount of light lost upward into the sky.

DSC07894.JPG (31112 bytes) Flashy, blinking signage obstructs the view at an intersection, distracts the attention of drivers, causes glare, and detracts from the community appearance.

(See more examples of lighting, good and bad, from around town.)

Let There Be Night Program

Let There Be Night is a two-part program in which students first visit a planetarium to experience three aspects of light pollution.  They decide whether to act to address the glare, sky glow, and light trespass, and if so, how.  Second, the students quantify the sky glow over the community both through visual observations and with hand-held Sky Quality Meters. Students in grades 3-8 participate in the hunt for stars in Orion as part of the Globe at Night program.  In the classroom they interpret their data and discuss the trade-offs of lighting technology and the social decisions related to outdoor lighting. Finally, the citizen-scientists share their results with the community.  As part of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, a team of students in the Penn Harris Madison school district built a 3-D model of their results out of 35,000 LEGO® blocks based on the observations of 3,400 students.  See for details.

Exploring National Park Skies

Astronomy professor Tyler Nordgren journeyed across America exploring the connections between the National Parks and the wonders of the night. After twelve parks in twelve months, Nordgren's observations and stunning photography are featured in Stars Above, Earth Below on the Let There Be Night DVD.

Loss of Night

The loss of our night sky in less than a century and a half is strikingly evident from these illustrations of the stars and the Milky Way over London and over Paris.  More at  

The Midnight Sky, London, 1869
, Edwin Dunkin. 

Le Ciel, Paris 1866, Amédée Guillemin.  


In broad terms...
"For a typical unshielded light fixture, 50% of the light shines upward. This is a direct waste and is the main cause of light pollution...Light emitted horizontally tends to create glare, working against the productive light. A shielded fixture eliminates the upward light and minimizes glare, allowing a much smaller wattage bulb to be used." Courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service.

Caveat: The total energy loss is much worse than it appears.  See Energy Chain


In Light Pollution Handbook, authors Kohei Narisada and Duco Schreuder conclude that the greatest challenge falls in the laps of educators. “A lack of awareness, rather than specific resistance, is generally the biggest problem in controlling light pollution.” The best means to improve the situation is education outreach, they assert, for the path to darker skies is “more a matter of improving priorities, rather than of inventing new tools.”

Copyright ©2009 Chuck Bueter.  All rights reserved.