Retro-fitting, rather than replacing

Nov 4

Written by:
11/4/2012 8:58 AM  RssIcon

I got my December issue of Astronomy Magazine the other day.  Towards the back I started reading an article about light pollution, and i was thinking, "Oh noes... I hope it doesn't just retread over the same old ground."  But it didn't: I was pleasantly surprised to read that it wasn't just talking about the problem and lamenting the loss of dark skies, it was actually offering practical tips on light pollution reduction, like how to talk to neighbors about the problem - tactfully, since "light at night" can be an emotional issue related to fear / security.  It also addressed how to retrofit existing lighting, so one need not buy all new lights to improve those already in place.

On my own house, I've changed - or removed - almost every outdoor light already.  We no longer have a "post lamp" at the end of our driveway (helped by the fact that my wife kept bumping it with her car and the metal fatigued to the point where it fell over).  I had long ago swapped out the light over our garage door to one that aims light down - though it is ridiculously bright, and we only use it for very short periods of time - for example, if we are working on a car after dark for some reason.  The one I do need to change is the one by our front door - but again, we leave this off 99% of the time, as almost no one comes to our front door anyway as we have a breezeway with a side door that is our 'main' entrance.

But I do have some neighbors who have less-than-ideal lighting.  And in one of the sidebars of the Astronomy article, there was some information about ways to retrofit existing lighting.  One is to place some shields on existing floodlights, called parshields - see image at left - which simply clip onto existing fixtures to keep the floodlight confined to the area where it is actually needed - the ground - and keeps it from spilling up into the atmosphere, where it does exactly zero good.  

So I went ahead and bought a couple of them, and will bring them to one set of neighbors (already quite amenable to the idea of better lighting) and ask them to install them, and follow up later to see how they like the shields.  These lights don't particularly bother me when on, but they do create a little bit of glare if I am out front trying to observe very faint deep sky objects.  So these are a good test to see how the parshields work.  If I get positive response, I'll see about talking to my other neighbors about them, because I'll be able to show them how they look and work - hopefully minimizing any resistance.

If you are interested in getting these, they are available at parshield.com for $25 for two shields, and they are available in either white or bronze.  I even got a nice email back from the owner, Gary, who indicated both his thanks for the purchase and noted an additional accessory he would even send along - free - if high winds ever cause an issue with the shields.

How's that for service?

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The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.