John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 1998 August 1
    Patricia Jackson and I attended the annual meeting of NELPAG, New 
England Light Pollution Advisory Group, on 1998 June 5 Saturday in New 
Haven CT. It convened in the geology hall of Yale University, next to 
the Peabody Museum from 10:30 EDST thru about 15:45. 
    Patricia was, before joining the [Amateur Astronomers] Association 
in 1998 May, concerned about brightskies and already corresponded with 
NELPAG. Thru her I got the interest up to come with her. After the 
meeting she supplied comments and corrections for this article. 
    From emails with NELPAG's chair Robert Crelin I brought the set of 
light pollution boards the Association displayed at the Northeast 
Astronomy Forum and the Annual Business Meeting, both in May. Being 
this was my own first time to NELPAG I figured on setting up the 
posters and let the auditorium view them during breaks and lunch. Then 
I would take in the procedings as a spectator. 
Invite to speak
    But Crelin, knowing generally of the massive success in erasing 
excess illumination from the air over the City asked if I could 
elaborate on the posters with a slidetalk! The posters cover a wide 
variety of strategies in New York; I focused one one aspect, the 
replacement of the streetlights in Herald Square. 
    So I threw together a tray of slides, packed some Association 
litterature, and met Ms Jackson at Grand Central Terminal. At the 
sunrise hour of 06:48, our train nudged out of the station and soon 
was clipping along into New England. We can't say much about the ride 
because we, still groggy, napped all the way to New Haven. Lucky for 
us that station is the end of the line. The conductor bellowed out 
that the train is laying up in the yards. So we better get off. 
to New Haven
    We took breakfast at a coffee counter in the station while waiting 
for Crelin to pick us up by car. The station was totally refurbished 
about five years ago as part of Amtrak's modernization scheme in the 
Northeast Corridor. Part of the works was a restored existing station 
while others were futuristic. Crelin arrived quite at 09:20 and we 
rode twoish kilometers to the meeting. 
    A few other delegates were there with others continually arriving. 
By 10:00 essentially all expected participants were present, 16 in 
all. The major contingent missing the meeting was Dr Daniel Green and 
several others from Cambridge MA. Crelin explained that Green was ill 
currently and he may have held off from coming. The meeting opened at 
10:30 without these folk. 
    Alth the convention was specifically for New England, Jackson and 
I were handsomely welcomed from the Association and two others 
represented the Westchester (NY) Amateur Astronomers. 
    The remaining attendees came from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and 
Rhode Island. None showed up from New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine. 
The meeting room was in two parts. The larger front section was 
fitted with a parallel row of conference tables and chairs, a slide 
projector, and a viewgraph projector. 
    The rear section had tables for 
exhibits and litterature. Here I set up the posters, a set of four 
leaned against the wall; I didn't need any of the masking tape I 
brought with me. The other exhibits were props for lighting fixtures, 
a poster of the night view of the US from a satellite, and catalogs of 
lighting devices from various companies. 
Bob Crelin
    There were three main presentations, each with lively discussion. 
Bob Crelin's talk, with slides and viewgraphs, covered examples of 
atrocious lighting in southern Connecticut. He lives in Branford and 
works with the New Haven Astronomical Society. He illustrated the 
usual abuses of lights such as misaimed floodlights, overly brilliant 
streetlamps, and dazzling spotlights. 
    The scenes could have been from just about any suburban or rural 
district in the country. The other delegates supplied by comment 
examples of similarly awful cases in their own districts. 
He explained the gradually notching up of general illumination as 
stores vie against each other for attracting attention. In this game 
each new store in a development puts up a brighter sign than those of 
the existing stores. The result is a daytime glow over the cluster of 
stores; dazzled eyes for motorists; and a jailyard mishmash of 
shadows, hotspots, and beams. 
United Illuminating Company
    Bob Crelin demonstrated a really hideous practice. The local 
utility, United Illuminating Company based in New Haven, offers a 
floodlighting service. For a suitable fee it attaches on its own 
poles a humongous floodlamp to aim at a customer's property. The lamp 
has so wide a range cone that much of the luminous flux spills over 
and around the property and illumes several blocks. Of particular 
danger is the sudden blast of this light in the eyes of motorists 
approaching the property. Nothing can be seen in the road during the 
many seconds of dazzled vision. 
    I, as a former utility engineer, find this truly queer. The 
enlightened[!] electric power company today plain does not egg on its 
customers to so recklessly waste energy. It seems that there are a few 
companies still stuck in an era long ago thrown on the trash heap of 
Miracle on 34th Street
    My own talk, titled 'Miracle on 34th Street', was a beefed up 
version of the one I presented to AAVSO in 1995. I photoessayed the 
lamppoles in the Herald Square district during my lunchtime wanderings 
being that my office is near the Square on 34th Street. I time stepped 
from the marking out of the pavement for the new fixtures to the 
coupling of the lamps to the electric mains. 
    Then I presented the miracle with a slide of the 'Miracle' shop on 
34th Street. (This store is no longer; it closed in late 1997.) 
Evening comes, the sky darkens, and the new illumination turns on. I 
took the auditorium on a 'walk' thru the area at night to inspect the 
new lighting on stores and large buildings. 
    Examples ranged from the tiny trinket stands and newsstands thru 
ordinary stores and eateries. Then we passed by gigantic structures 
with the new starsafe lighting such as Macy's department store, Penn 
Plaza tower, Madison Square Garden, and New Penn Station. 
    I pointed out that for some many years in the City obnoxious and 
offensive lighting is essentially banned. This flows from the 
regulations enforced by the betterment committees and the municipal 
quality-of-life laws. As for legacy lighting, there really isn't any. 
Outdoor structures as a matter of course are rebuilt within three to 
five years anyway. The new lights conform to the modern starsafe 
    The talk closed with a stop at the first International Darksky 
Shrine, a monster K-Mart in Penn Plaza with many starsafe features. 
Harvey Hutchinson
    After lunch, Harvey "Hutch" Hutchinson of Lithonia Lighting 
Company reviewed the new order for nighttime illumination as practiced 
by utilities and lamp companies. His firm in Connecticut is a 
subsidiary of the electric utility company in northern Georgia near 
Atlanta. He emphasized that for many years the arts and science of 
lighting have steadily improved. Designs considered normal three 
decades ago are now deprecated today. Glare or spillage accepted back 
then is now intolerable. 
    "Hutch" explained that many of the new precepts of lighting derive 
from recent advances in optical physiology and social psychology, as 
well as from the federal mandate under ADA. He noted that outdoor 
installations, being open to weather and accidents and vandalism, will 
eventually be replaced. The replacement illumination will adhere to 
the current star-friendly standards. Depending on the facility, the 
lifespan ranges from five to fifteen years. Hence, even if nothing 
else is done vast reductions in excess light thrown into the sky will 
be realized by the end of the first decade of the new century. 
Short presentations
    There were several short presentations from many delegates. Dr 
Arthur Upgren, Wesleyan Uv, told of his efforts to have a bridge in 
Middletown CT lit with tracer lamps rather than the proposed grossly 
offensive floodlights. 
    Jules Granata detailed how he in his security light business 
promotes no-glare lights. Such fixtures allow witnesses and police to 
comfortably inspect the lighted scene while preventing criminals from 
hiding in deep shadows or blinding glare. 
    Justine Gillen, councilwoman for Branford CT, explained her 
proposed zoning amendments for nighttime lights in the town. Copies 
of the plan were on hand at the literature table. 
    Three major features of this meeting should go down in the darksky 
annals. First was the lack of emphasis on stargazing as the motivation 
for improving outdoor lighting. No one whined about missing that 
ultrafaint galaxy because of the sky whitening truck stop up the pike. 
No one bitched about some observatory's loss of critical research due 
to a nearby trashlighted office tower. 
    This I believe comes from the real fundamental rationale for good 
lighting. Good lighting is a derivative of good civilization. Period. Of 
course, stargazing reaps the benefit as a collateral bonus. In short, 
there was nothing of the 'San Diego' syndrome at this NELPAG conference. 
Monochrome mantra
    A second major advance was the junking of the fanaticism for 
monochromatic lamps. These were the spam of the early years of the 
darksky movement, forced into every conversation on light pollution. 
The trick was that if the illumination was of a single (or a few) 
wavelength, that light could be filtered out at the telescope. Thus a 
darksky could be realized; the starlight would lack just the one 
wavelength blocked by the filter. 
    It quickly was cruelly realized among stargazers that essentially 
no one ever closed this loop and acquired the necessary filters! And 
those who did get them used them only for specific occasions. Hence, 
the town suffered under 'bug lamps' while the stargazer still peered 
thru a bright -- tho wonderfully monochrome -- sky. 
    In the face of this shameful fact, current darksky agitators no 
longer chant the monochrome mantra. The emphasis is on promoting the 
shielded, tightly aimed, carefully placed lamps of contemporary star 
friendly style. In fact, the newer physiology studies call for 
illumination closer to solar or lunar for discerning safety and 
security hazards at night. 
Let's go, metrics!
    Thirdly, the delegates exuded a complete comfort with metrics. 
While oldstyle measures are still prevalent, the conversations were 
even handedly laced with metrics. No one pleaded for a conversion back 
to oldstyle. 
    Dr Upgren noted that the oldstyle 'foot-candle' is substantially 
equal to 10 lux, or lumen per square meter. This comes from the happy 
fact that one square meter is so closely ten square feet. 
    He suggested that in view of the errors already embedded in 
lighting measurements that the 'foot-candle' be simply the vernacular 
term for 10 lux, or one dekalux. It would join the 'acre' of 4,000m2 
and the 'ton' of 1,000Kg. 
    Due to the late start and the extensive crosstalk all thru the 
meeting we adjourned at 15:45. Patricia and I helped clean up the 
rooms and carry materials to Crelin's car. He took us to the station 
where we boarded the 16:57 train back to New York. 
    This time we were quick and vivid. We admired the railworks 
underway for American Flyer. This is 'Son of Metroliner' extended to 
Boston. The whole road is under majestic rehab to receive the 200KPH 
railliners in fall of 1999. 
    When we stepped from the platform at Grand Central into the main 
concourse, there above us was the just-cleaned-up celestial ceiling. 
Within the darksky movement this largest of starmaps in human history 
is a living totem for the real stars in the sky over the City.