3: Like a Sun

“Light Pollution News, Episode 3, “Like a sun!”
Light Pollution News Podcast
Light Pollution News Podcast
3: Like a Sun

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Episode 3: Like a Sun. Light Pollution News.

Show Notes:

‘Like a sun on Earth’: Las Vegas warning if dazzling venue built in London’s East End, Miranda Bryant of the Guardian.

Per the article, “East London residents are being warned that light pollution from a huge new concert venue will be “like a sun on Earth.” The London Legacy Development Corporation approved plans for a new advertising display covering the outside of a gigantic sphere. The MSG Sphere will utilize more than one million LEDs to show advertising all night long!

The MSG Sphere, a duplicate of the one currently being built in Las Vegas, is brought to you by the very same folks who own the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, and I might add, that recently used facial recognition technology to ban employees of law firms who handled cases against MSG from entry into Madison Square Garden. Currently, MSG is close to completing its Las Vegas Sphere, sitting at 336’ (112M) high and 516’ (157M) wide. MSG plans to seat upwards of 20,000 people in their take on a revolutionary music venue.

In January, MSG tested their Vegas sphere, which, judging by pictures, looks astoundingly bright – perhaps may be one of the brightest things humans ever created. One Vegas neighbor compared the recent LED panel test to like “building a sun on Earth.”  MSG hopes to provide a new immersive concert experience for fans. U2 is slated to open the Vegas sphere in the fall.

By all accounts, it appears that this sphere, in both its Vegas and London incarnation, is a new, untenable assault on the night sky, not to mention ecology, energy production, and climate change, just to name a few. The current plan appears to put something akin to the Vegas sphere inside a residential London, flying in the face of all sensible urban planning. To soften the unabated assault on the nighttime environment, MSG added that they would limit brightness at different times of the day “compared to the Vegas Sphere.”

U-Turn on plans to change street lighting at night. BBC

This one comes to us from the BBC. Initially, Southend City leaders planned a cost savings initiative to “dim 90% of the city’s lights on a “revised sliding scale” between 11:00pm and 5:00am.” However, fearful residents protested fearing for safety, and thwarted the initiative. Per the plan, lights would reduce to 30% brightness between 1:00am and 5:00am. Instead, they will remain at their current level of 30% of their brightness between 2:00am and 5:00am.

Do Look Up: 1,000 Street Lights at Risk of Falling, Wellington Tells Residents, Tess McClure from the Guardian.

Ever wonder what it’s like to have a bulk sack of rice fall on you? Or maybe a microwave? Well, this is your chance! Apparently, “hundreds of street lights have begun dropping without warning!” The lamp heads weigh 33lbs (15kg). Richard MacLean of the Wellington City Council warned residents of this deadly danger.

So a reminder, just keep your heads up folks!  You never know!

Death Valley Dark Sky Festival sees largest attendance in Thirteen Year History, Martha Cruz of News 3 Las Vegas.

Death Valley celebrated the night this past February 10th through 12th. Grossing close to 6k visitors over the course of the three days, folks were treated to a slew of nighttime activities. Including “auditorium talks, field trips, astrophotography workshops, night sky tours, and more.

Young Readers can take flight with Ole’s Dark Sky Journey, Scott Iwasaki of the Park Record.

Follow the story of Ole, a Mexican Spotted Owl, as Ole takes you through 18 of Utah and Nevada’s State and National Parks in search of dark nights. Ole helps kids learn about important nighttime sights, including constellations. The book’s author, Melissa Marsted, worked with Park Rangers to help craft the childrens book.

Have a go at astro photography, zip wires and night walks in this starry festival, Rachel Rogers of York Mix.

Check this out. In North York Moors, in Northern England, folks put on a full celebration of the night! The Dark Skies Festival, which went from Feb 10 – 26, allowing participants to engage in fun ways with the nighttime environment, including adventure camping, astrophotography workshops, nocturnal animal searches, bat box workshops, sundown ziplines, and much more. Very fun idea. Hope they had great turn out for it!

This vintage train takes you out to stargaze near Santa Fe, Erika Mailman of Time Out.

Looking for some stateside fun? Well check this out! What if you could take a ride on the StarGazer train and be treated to a guided tour of the night sky by an astronomer, live music, and even a complimentary glass of wine? Sounds like a relaxing way to end a long week if you ask me! Mailman notes, “According to the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, researchers have determined that a single unshielded street lamp can affect the view of the night sky for an observer up to 125 miles away.” Maybe London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan will remember that when deciding if his community really needs a sun globe.

How Reading the Night Sky Helped Black Americans Survive, Heather Greenwood Davis, National Geographic.

Have you ever heard of Benjamin Banneker?

I doubt conventional American history, or whatever partisan colored history they teach today, references Banneker. Banneker, the son of a former slave and a former indentured servant, left a mark on history as the first African American astronomer of notoriety. Born in the 1730s, he attended a Quaker school and had a predilection for engineering – building an irrigation solution for his family farm along with a wooden clock that accurately kept time until his death. Banneker spent three months helping to survey the newly planned Washington, DC in the 1790s. Following that time, Banneker’s notable contribution derived from being the first African American to produce astronomical calculations used in identifying statistical details such as astronomical alignment and tide times, often used fisherman in the form of six almanacs. Banneker even advocated for equality and respect for enslaved Africans to then Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson.

Fast forward to the early 19th century, constellations blazing bright in the unobscured night sky helped runaway slaves find Underground Railroad hideouts. For instance, signal songs like “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” code for “big dipper” helped runaways identify their direction by the north star. 

A truly curious article for how overlooked and important the night sky is on society. For instance, Davis cites how, lacking formal education, for African farmers (both free and enslaved) it was “imperative” to understand the workings of the night sky to gauge their planting cycles.

Afraid of the Dark: Street light faults leave residents in the dark, Local Democracy Reporter.

In the short time that this show has been on the air, we’ve spoken about street lights quite often. In this episode where we had an issue with falling lamps, or residents rebelling against dimming, in Scotland, 200 faulty street lights leave residents, and I quote, “literally,” in the dark. Over the past two years, lights in some areas of Edinburgh have been without street lights.  Politicians blame the power supplier, in this case, Scottish Power, for having multiple faults within their network.

Councilor, as in the elected official, Kevin Lang asserted, “Proper street lighting is essential for people’s safety, particularly for vulnerable people when they are out and about at night.”

That statement right made this article eligible for the Afraid the Dark article of the month. We see this often, either news agencies, especially television news, or city councilmembers, drive up the specter of danger to help push through their own interests.

“Essential for people’s safety,” can mean many things, and in some ways, it’s very justified – as such for intersection crosswalks and for visibility when walking at night. However, the use of light is not a magic bullet that will somehow deter crime, if that is the goal of Councilor Lang’s assertion.

Research article of the Month:  Artificial lighting affects the landscape of fear in a widely distributed shorebird, Communications Biology.

Three researchers, Jolkkohen, Gaston, and Troscianko, undertook a study to see how artificial light at night (ALAN) affects the flight initiation response of a specific shorebird known as Eurasian curlews, a species listed under the Near Threatened designation. Their research asserts that in low lit areas, such as areas with a forest obscuring artificial light, the flight response to perceived predators led the birds to initiate flight from a shorter distance of the perceived threat than under direct or horizontal ALAN. ALAN may provide more opportunities to reduce the perceived predatory dangers. For better or worse, ALAN has the effect of increasing the rate of disturbance of these curlews. Its impact on the curlew’s foraging behaviors and the predation of other animals searching out the curlews still has yet to be studied.

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