To a Better 2045!

LPN July 2024
Light Pollution News Podcast
Light Pollution News Podcast
To a Better 2045!

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July 2024: To a Better 2045!, Light Pollution News.


Bill McGeeney


Lya Osborn

Lya Shaffer Osborn is a multidisciplinary designer, writer, literary translator, and environmental justice advocate in Seattle, WA. Lya is a co-founder of, which works to make social advocacy resources accessible to the lighting community and beyond. She also serves as the North America Regional Director for Unolai Lighting Design, contributing to a diverse range of international projects and award-winning design efforts over the past nine years. Lya received a double MFA in Lighting Design and Interior Design from Parsons The New School for Design, where her thesis work challenged the industry norms and incentives which have traditionally defined a designer’s role in society, proposing alternate modes of directing design resources to historically disadvantaged populations. Lya is a member of the International Association of Lighting Designers, the Illuminating Engineering Society, and the International Dark Sky Association, and is Community Friendly Lighting Certified.

Josh Dury

Josh Dury Photo-Media AKA Starman (B.A. FRAS), is an Award-Winning Landscape Astrophotographer, Presenter, Speaker, and Writer from The Mendip Hills “Super National Nature Reserve” in Somerset, United Kingdom. His images have been recognized by NASA, TWAN, BBC, ITV, and CNN amongst others. Learn more about all of his work at his website

Ken Walczak

Senior Manager of the Far Horizons program at the Adler Planetarium, Co-Author of numerous papers on design and use of innovating instrumentation for light pollution research, and co-lead in the successful designation of the world’s largest Urban Night Sky Place, the Palos Preserves. Walczak is also a board member with Dark Sky International.

  1. Florida directive for bridge lighting is latest in battle over Pride and other symbols, David Bauerlein, Jacksonville Florida Times-Union.
  2. Florida won’t light bridges in rainbow colors. So Jacksonville’s LGBTQ community did., David Bauerlein, Jacksonville Florida Times-Union.
  3. Ron DeSantis stopped Pride lighting of bridges, so a Jacksonville man did it himself. Here’s how you can too, Jacob Ogles, Advocate.
  4. Bay Bridge lights to return with almost double the number of lights, better visibility, Max Darrow, CBS News Bay Area.
  5. Giant, mysterious laser beam appears over San Francisco, Ariana Bindman, SFGate.
  6. A LIGHT FOR TOMORROW, Chris Herring, Portland Winter Light Festival.
  7. HB837, The Florida Senate.
  8. Safety fears prompt streetlight dimming review, Helen Richardson, BBC News.
  9. ‘Offending’ street light in bike lane to be removed, Eoin English, Irish Examiner.
  10. ‘Too bright’ street lights set to be replaced, BBC News.
  11. Street luminance and night-time walking comfort: a new perspective for the urban lighting design, Urban Design.
  12. Scientists Say Light Pollution Could Interfere with Coral Spawning, TaiwanPlus News.
  13. Unexpected bat community changes along an urban–rural gradient in the Berlin–Brandenburg metropolitan area, Scientific Reports.
  14. Diurnal predators in dim light: the ability of mantids to prey for supper, Environmental Entomology.
  15. Wavelength-specific negatively phototactic responses of the burrowing mayfly larvae Ephoron virgo, Journal of Experimental Biology.
  16. Reducing the fatal attraction of nocturnal insects using tailored and shielded road lights, Communications Biology.
  17. How artificial lights confuse migrating birds, and how going ‘Lights Out’ can help them, Amy Feiereisel, North Country Public Radio.

Before we get started today, I know this will go live right around when us here in the United States celebrate Independence Day. We had to pick up AppleTV this year because the Phillies have something like a game a week on it. It’s a bit frustrating, but not all is a gripe!

I’m not sure if anyone has seen this, but there’s a mini-series about Ben Franklin on AppleTV, appropriately titled ‘Franklin.’ Being the history nerd that I am, of course I gave it a spin, and barring one or two filler episodes, it turned out to be a pretty solid series. Now why am I bringing this up? Why on Earth do you care?

Well, I am not speaking authoritatively on this because I honestly don’t know enough about how people acted, dressed, or lit their environments – but that being said – the portrayal of how people interacted with and lit nighttime in 18th century appeared to my untrained eye, quite believable. The oil lamps burned mildly, emitting a modest amount of light – there were plenty of scenes when the darkness of night played a supporting role – and it wasn’t washed out by production lighting, night scenes weren’t portrayed as nefarious or dangerous, rather night was simply the other half of the day – no alteration needed.

If you have seen the series, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how the show portrayed night. Feel free to email me at In the meantime, I’m curious if any of my guests have seen this or know of any good examples of the portrayal of night in cinema?

We have some heavy hitters this month, let’s jump to it!

This might be one of the most interesting stories I’ve come across in the short time that I’ve been doing Light Pollution News.

For a couple of years, the Acosta Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida has utilized theme coloring for different holidays or days of significance. As you will see, politics has apparently spilled over into the realm of intense aesthetic light pollution, even creating a bit of gamesmanship.

Governor Ron DeSantis, the same governor that brought you such high minded legislation like HB837– a law which eliminated an avenue of lawsuits against apartments provided they added all-night lighting to their parking, porches, and walkway areas; preempted Jacksonville’s lighting of its bridges to celebrate minority activism, that would include such events as changing the bridge color in honor of Pride month or possibly celebrating the new holiday of Juneteenth. Juneteenth for those of you not in the US – is the holiday celebrating the end of slavery.

Rather, per the Florida Department of Transportation, the “decorative lighting on state-owned bridges will be red, white and blue,” otherwise known as, and you can’t make this stuff up, “Freedom Lighting.”

For you at home who have never seen the bridges in Jacksonville, like myself, the Main Street bridge appears bathed in blue light, and the adjacent Acosta bridge, the one that this story focuses on, has bright programmable LEDs that strive to create a symmetrical shimmer off of the St. John’s River.

But the story doesn’t end there!

Per Jacob Ogles at Advocate, a man named Matt McAllister, while on a honeymoon in Germany with his husband got wind of the news. He reached out to a CEO friend who offered up $1500 to purchase high-intensity flashlights. McAllister then phoned theater production friends to obtain specialized lighting gels to color coordinate Pride colors.  

McAllister ended up rallying 70 people to walk to key points on the Main Street bridge, which among other things, enabled the light beam to enter and reflect off of the water more prominently. The end result of the protest left the Acosta Bridge lit up in bands of red, white and blue, while the already blue lit Main Street Bridge, now striped with colors of the rainbow from its railings down to the water.

This was topped off by the following quote McAllister gave to Advocate, “I would think the DeSantis administration ought to be handing us an award for the first mass example of freedom in Freedom Summer.”

This is not the first time the State of Florida has attempted to shut down the bridge’s color scheme. The State put the kybosh on Jacksonville’s attempt in 2021 to utilize rainbow lighting, allowing the lights to burn for only one day.

Before I open this one up, as previously mentioned in a past episode, Ben Davis of Illuminate San Francisco, a nonprofit that has done amazing things like install art displays made up of very bright all night lights in parks and blast a giant all night laser beam above Market Street, has obtained donation funding of a whopping $10.5 million with the goal of $11M in relatively short order. Davis expects to light up the Bay Bridge in early March 2025. And here’s a quote to reflect on, per Ben Davis, “I feel like there is a hole in the night sky, and there has been for the past year.

I should also note that this month we had a study roll through identifying polarized light pollution on river water surfaces in Berlin, Germany. The study in the Journal of Limnology specifically set out to chart how much polarized light pollution occurred on the River Spree surface.

In other words, the study set out to gauge how artificial light at night reflected off the river, with hopes to lay the foundation for future studies that could assess any ecological impacts that may occur. Per the study, “if ALAN reaches the water’s surface, this can induce polarized light that can mask natural polarization cues, which probably can become an ecological hazard for flying aquatic insects and other polaroctic organisms sensitive to changes in polarized light.”

Staying in the art realm, and staying in San Francisco, did you miss the giant laser beam in the sky? Apparently, it was visible upwards of 12 miles away from the source. This light collected more than insects, it even caught the attention of a random biker who crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to investigate.

Per MegaLasers CEO, Barrett Lyon, the company was testing a 400-watt laser to nowhere for use in an upcoming conference.

Lastly, Chris Herring, the creative director for the Portland Winter Light Festival has a vision for the future. Herring asks, “Where will we be in 2045?”

Per Portland Winter Light Festival’s 2025 Theme page, “My mind sees pillars that sense a presence and guides them down pathways with a colorful pulsing glow, buildings shimmering in dazzling pastels, videos and images, constructed art works skinned in shiny metallics over LEDs that look as beautiful in the daytime as the night, wayfinding towers that can be seen from block to block…”

Just a little inspiration for dark sky advocates out there.

On a lighter note, the town of Cork in Ireland is removing two street lights! That’s because they recently installed new bike lanes that happen to run right through them! Cyclists raised concerns about these two street light poles sitting “smack bang in the middle of the path.

Now here’s one that I want to point your way Lya. I lumped these together because they all kinda fit the theme.

We know that street lighting has a psychological effect on non-criminal, regular folks, regardless of how effective it can deter crime. I’m not sure if you’ve been following this, but in parts of Europe, due to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, many communities have elected to cut costs by dimming street lights. Some communities, such as Bordeaux, turned off about 57% of their street lights between 1-5am.

In Gateshead, Britain, the council dims their lights to 75% from 12 to 5:30. This has prompted concerned residents to petition the council in hopes of bringing the lights back. For comparison, this article cites that Newcastle City reduces streetlight brightness by 25% and Cumberland by 50%.

Conversely, in an article also from the BBC, the city of Dorset brought up something that isn’t an uncommon issue either, the replacement of new LED lighting which both created too much light trespass and was hated by residents as being too harsh.

Before I open this one up, I also want to throw in this article from Urban Design that looked at the overall comfort of individuals at night. I’m definitely not going to vouch for the methodology of the study. The end result though, probably unsurprisinglyfound that if night didn’t exist, people simply wouldn’t experience discomfort.

This study looked at luminance, which, and please correct me where I’m wrong, is the emitting brightness of a light source versus illuminance, which is the end target of the light source. So to take that one step further – a light shines with luminance, whereby a sidewalk collects its illuminance. Not the most eloquent, I’m not going to win a prize for that – but you get the idea.

The study suggested enhancing ambient surfaces and surroundings to reflect more light from the light source, in order to enhance the luminance, not the illuminance, of the area – which, per the study, brings overall perceived light levels closest to daytime. This could be done by utilizing more reflective wall colors or reflectors on/near the path. The study attempted to gauge optimal pedestrian comfort while walking the streets at night.

Onto ecology. Scientists in Taiwan warn that light pollution from shoreside fixtures and divers could present problems for nighttime coral spawning.

A study from Scientific Reports plotted bat species richness along an urban-rural gradient, noting a steep drop off once in urban zones. The study looked specifically at how sound and light pollution affect bats. It utilized software to identify bat classifications based on their calls. While most bats appeared to be avoidant of light and sound, a subset was found that will utilize light to their benefit for foraging.

From Environmental Entomology, the diurnal praying mantis may have trouble foraging in the dark. That may be because they rely on detecting motion in their environment. Mantids hunt quite well under full lighting but dropped to a 50% success rate under moonlit skies, and 0% in the dark! The study attempted to provide greater insight into the insect’s hunting prowess in conditions including light pollution.

Quite an interesting study out of the Journal of Experimental Biology. Many of you may know mayflies are generally bellwethers of water quality. Here in Pennsylvania, well parts of Central Pennsylvania at least, it’s not that odd to see mayflies swarm a street lamp early in the summer. While adults may be heavily attracted to bluer spectrums of light, the larvae actually are quite avoidant. Researchers speculate that this is to avoid being seen by predators.

In this study specifically, they point out that light approaching the 400nm spectrum range (shorter wavelength sitting in the blue-violet color range), will elicit migration away from lighting – under the premise that short wavelength light indicates shallow water. The larvae tend to push inward where such light is minimally abundant.

Back in Germany, a study in Communications Biology looked at the impact of specialized shielded road lighting versus conventional 4000K LED light fixtures. There are a number of things to note here.

First, while they did not go into much detail on the construction and design of the shielding, it should be noted that they did test the shielding at various color temperatures and found it to collect fewer insects than an unshielded lighting source. The researchers also tested to see if simply reducing the light levels of the unshielded lighting would make a difference, with the result being that the shielded lighting still retained a sizable advantage.

The shielding in this case is specifically targeted to maintain illumination on the desired path/road, and not extend light trespass to adjacent surfaces like fields and trees.  Further to that, it was targeted as a solution for areas deemed to be of ecological importance.

One side note, got this tidbit from North Country Public Radio, regarding our good and dear friends, the birds.  Do not use window suction cup bird feeders…I didn’t know this was a thing but my god, what a terrible life choice for all! The article also mentioned something that I think past guest, Jeff Buler hinted at, and that was that in areas of relative dark, lit communities or lit areas surrounded by regions of minimal lighting can have an outsized impact on attracting birds.

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