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Is there such a thing as residential light pollution?

  1. Dec 17, 2011 #1
    So, a few days ago my neighbor (across the street) installed a new porch light. Now, whenever I take my dog out at night, that thing is blaring across the road and it drives me crazy. It's not the type with the shade over it so the light points downward. This thing is like a candelabra, only with the output of a small lighthouse.

    Ordinarily this would not bother most people. My roommate is under the school of "the more light at night the better", and she simply doesn't understand my plight. If I am outside at night, I would rather be in the dark than under a localized light source. Why? Well, I feel that people outside the light can see you, but you can't see them. So, I am much more comfortable without the light on.

    Am I the weird one here?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2011 #2

    turbo

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    My thoughts are "the less lights the better". If I want to take my dog our for a walk, I can take enough light to light up our path and look out for obstructions. No need to light-pollute the neighborhood and destroy our access to the beautiful night sky just to light up one's front lawn.
     
  4. Dec 17, 2011 #3
    Not at all. I can't stand bright unshielded lights. I get irritated when the neighbors leave on their porch lights all night.
     
  5. Dec 17, 2011 #4
    Well, there is really no view of the night sky where I live. That's why I specified "residential" light pollution, being fully aware of what actual light pollution is. I just hate standing in the light outside my own house, and feeling like every living thing in a 2 mile radius can clearly see me, yet I can't see 5 feet outside the radius of the light.

    Let's assume a hypothetical situation. You have a house in the middle of the most crime ridden place in the country. (There is no crime where I live, but for the purpose of this..) Let's also assume that every house in the area (besides yours) is lived in by known burgulars/muggers/other-unsavory-types. Would you rather:

    A.) Go outside with the porch light on, so anyone hiding in the bushes can clearly see you.

    or

    B.) Go outside without the light.


    I don't understand why people feel safer outside with a porch light on, while they are standing in the light!
     
  6. Dec 18, 2011 #5
    I work as a security guard and I feel similarly. Some fun stories...

    The other week I was walking along in the parking lot and noticed that it seemed much darker than usual at the other end. I figured a light must have went out and kept walking. As I was about to enter the dark area I suddenly noticed a dark boxy thing on the ground right at my feet. It almost looked like an oversized vhs or maybe a CPU tower. I looked at the near by car to see if maybe someone was loading it up and saw what seemed almost like a dolly/cart type thing at first and then eventually realized it was the cross top of the damn lamp post. A 12 foot (approximately) lamp post had fallen down, the boxy thing was one of the lights, and I seriously had to stand there squinting for several seconds to realize that the thing was right there at my feet. This was after having spent the last few minutes walking up to the thing. That's how bright the parking lot lights are.

    The next story, not quite as amusing, just happened the other night. I was walking along in the same general vicinity and found some people hanging out in the parking lot. I asked them to go inside. While I was hanging about to make sure that they went in and kept the noise down I noticed a dark figure next to the apartment's bedroom window. It was a peeping tom. I had walked right past him without seeing him because the bright lights were between us and apparently the five or six people who had been hanging out outside the apartment had not seen the guy either.

    So there you are... some non-hypothetical, though anecdotal, circumstances where overly bright outdoor lights were quite a hindrance.
     
  7. Dec 18, 2011 #6
    There is definitely residential light pollution. The excess light from residential areas is right in there with commercial light pollution and the glare it produces which prevents us from seeing the night sky. Think in terms of "light trespass". We do not have the right to shine light onto someone else's property. Just like we do not have the right to blast people with noise we do not have the right to blast with light. Most lighting regulations stipulate, in general, that at a 5 foot height at your property line, you should not be able to see the light source (the bulb). If everyone worked at this concept we could totally change our night environment and make it safer as well as more beautiful. Only the light we need, where we need it. Everything else is wasted energy.
     
  8. Dec 18, 2011 #7
    I am moderately photophobic and can't stand point sources of light. I have to wear a cap even in my home so that the light directly doesn't enter my eyes. So I am pretty prone to light pollution if you can call it that. This annoys many people though.
     
  9. Dec 18, 2011 #8
    That is very interesting about your sensivity to direct light. That would explain a number of individuals that I have noted always tend to screen their eyes. Well, it helps you see things better than those that are exposed to the direct light. Our society could reduce spending on night lighting if more appropriate fixtures directed the light where it is needed. You can reduce energy consumption because you can use lower power lights but still see better because the light is screened from direct view of the pupil and the pupil does not close as much. We see the light that is reflected off the things we need to see and the pupil meters off that light.
     
  10. Mar 3, 2012 #9
    I hope some people will read this thread and make efforts when installing bright lights you intend to run all night to ensure the light doesn't bother the neighbors, build a 'shade' of some sort such that the light does not go beyond your own property.

    I have bad problems with bright security and other lights near a road when I am driving at night. A neighbor's light is especially annoying ... one person's barn light was so bright that, even a quarter mile away, my drapes were inadequate to block the light :/ I am a sensitive sleeper and need absolute dark.
     
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