Chasing the Milky Way : a proposal for ecological light pollution controls for the City of Austin, Texas

Date

2021-05-05

Authors

Machiavello, Anita S.

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Abstract

Ecological light pollution (ELP) is a concept that has been steadily gaining attention throughout energy conservation conversations, and among astronomers and community planners. There are various sources of ELP including: sky glow, lighted buildings and towers, streetlights, security lights, and lights on vehicles, and all of these have long lasting disruptions to all ecosystems at varying degrees. This work will focus primarily on a terrestrial scale light effect. There is existing research that proves that ELP has consequential long-term effects on mammal, animal, and insect populations specifically their biological, behavioral, and reproductive functioning. The purpose of this paper is to explain the causes of ELP, its consequences, and best practices to reduce light pollution through literary research and planning documentations while considering the feasibility for local government implementation. After researching cases of cities close to Austin, throughout the United States, and internationally, I determine that the best practices in reducing light pollution for the City of Austin, TX is to 1) use shielding to encase street lights from above (which reduces sky glow) and to the sides (channels light downwards and reduces the amount of wasted light), 2) enforce through legislation commercial buildings transitioning to motion sensor lighting (including timers and dimmers) at night which will minimize wasted light (energy consumption) and decrease risk for migratory birds, and 3) use high/low pressure sodium (LPS) when possible which is a monochromatic light source that can be filtered and does not contribute to sky glow.

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