Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Future Solution to Light Pollution?

Light pollution is a major problem, both for professional and backyard astronomers. It used to be that if you just went out into the countryside, you could get decent viewing. But with unshielded mercury vapor lamp street lighting all over cities, you can't do that, anymore. City glow extends for tens, even hundreds, of miles, fogging up the sky.

The Vancouver Museum in British Columbia, Canada is currently hosting an exhibit of simple, practical solutions to a variety of modern problems. One of the items on display is something called "Lunar-Resonant Street Lights": http://www.indexaward.dk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=95&Itemid=77

These are street lights that are sensitive to moonlight. They are brightest during a New Moon and dimmest (even off) during a Full Moon. Their inventors say that not only could these lights save "between 80 and 90 percent of energy normally spent on street lighting" but that they could also get people back in tune with the natural rhythms of the world around them, like lunar phases and star rotations. Check it out. It's a very interesting idea. Now, if we can just get rid of those infernal mercury lights...

1 comment:

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