Foton Pharming from FRO


Sorry to say my "fed up, cranky old bastard" is coming out here. If you can't read it all, I'll understand :-(

Light pollution is an insidious form of pollution because it disappears as soon as the offending light source is switched off and leaves behind no foul substance or filthy residue.

The answer to protecting the night sky is not no lighting, it is good lighting.
Good lighting does its job well, without causing a nuisance to others. It directs the right amount of light in the right place, does not shine upwards, does not annoy neighbours and does not cause glare, so it is safe, and saves energy. Good lighting benefits everyone.

In the last 12 months I've had a neighbour install an array of lights on their house which badly effected my night sky and a local business installed dozens of upward pointing flood lights on their premises with full council approval.

I made inquiries as to the legality of the situation but the senior town planner either did not appreciate the impact of the lighting or simply didn't care. They said they would investigate whether approval was required. They then said that in their opinion "the lighting would not breach the requirements of Australian Standard AS4282 Control of the Obtrusive Effects of Outdoor Lighting" as "the lights are placed beneath trees and light up the underneath of the canopy of the trees". Its quite obvious to me that no one actually even bothered to look at the lights at night, otherwise they would have seen the effect it was having. It is unfortunate that they are just reading from a rule book that is grossly inadequate when dealing with this modern problem. It seriously needs amending. But how, we are dealing with bureaucracy, so can a positive change get made when there is no money in it for them.
A comment from mate Pebbles "You should know better than to try and talk sense to people whose purpose it is to serve the public!!!!" Yeah...

Apparently authority won't even acknowledge the term pollution to describe this problem, they term it "spillage".

The view of the winery entrance from the southern approach.
Note: The exposures were a couple of seconds to mimic the effect these lights have on the night adapted eye.

The view of the winery entrance from the northern approach. Some of the lights are directly shining in your eyes when driving past.

The view from opposite the entrance. The trees are fully lit up, not just the underside of the canopy.
Excess light is spilling into the sky from every flood light. The trees at the front of the property are just saplings and have no canopy at all.

The view down the avenue of trees. As you see Jupiter and the Moon pale compared to the lights in the trees.

I did write a personal letter to the winery pointing out the futility of over 45 flood lights pointing into the sky and burning all night...
obtrusive, pointless, wasteful and excessive.
I also suggested to them that timers be put on the lights to activate during twilight hours when there are actually people around to see them and to turn off during the night when nobody is there to see them.
Really, why do trees need lighting up at 11 PM, Midnight, 2 AM, 4 AM, I doubt it helps them grow but it should keep all the native fauna out of them!

If council rules and regulations can't deal with this type of new installation, then how on Earth can we fight the ridiculous waste of electricity and excessive light pollution being belched out by the likes of big business where the almighty dollar rules all. Their motto is... Never let the environment or anyone stand in the way of making profit!!

I took a few images of the lights that are burning all night, every night at the coal mines north of Mudgee. It was quite depressing when I lost count at over 500 lights. Why do you need 60+ lights on a conveyor 10s of metres up in the air burning all night. 100s of other lights at ground level cause so much glare that it would cause more problems than it would creating a "safe" environment. Many cases like this of what looks good on paper does not actually work in reality.

The following images were taken from several places along the side of the main road that runs through the mines.
Many other areas I could not image from safely. Just driving along the public road is a concern with so many lights directly shining in your face.

Three other isolated but very bright lights.


The 'New View' to the south from Frog Rock Observatory. 2016

The latest addition to the moron neighbours house on the nearest property is an array of seven outdoor lights...
One or two I could have tolerated but seven...
Why do you need seven friggin lights burning for hours each night with nobody actually using the area.
And when their shed lights are on, which all point straight at FRO, its even worse!

Isn't it great when neighbours just do whatever they want without a care for how it affects any body else.
As long as they are happy, right!

The irony of this situation is, on our dead-end dirt road,
no-one sees these lights except the one person who doesn't want to see them... the nerd astronomer across the road.
Well, that's not entirely true... the lights can easily be seen from kilometers away on the other side of the valley we live in. 

I'm sure all astronomers can appreciate my frustration and disappointment.
It's bad enough that over the last several years Ulan Coal mines have ruined the NE quadrant of my sky (see previous rant section).
The whole point of buying our property in the country was to get away from obnoxious and wasteful light pollution but it just keeps following me like a bad smell... I dunno, what'd you do?

After I had a whinge to my mate Clarky as to why we bother with astronomy, he come back with this little gem...

"Why do astronomy? Because we're intelligent, curious investigative humans striving to further our knowledge and achieve a tiny glimpse into the vast universe that surrounds us and understand the perspective of just how small we really are in the scheme of things. Otherwise we would just be dumb arse f**ks that will have permanent spinal deformations through not lifting their head out of their iphone 8000 and facebook while momentarily taking time out to bitch about some dag doing a home reno show and how his wallpaper isn't hung straight. That's why!" 

...that about sums it up.

Anyways, after a number of months going through all the emotional states... anger, followed by anger, then anger and then generally being angry. I come to the conclusion that the only solution was, there is to be no compromise with the offenders but an ultimate resolution... that didn't involve firearms. Its funny, everyone I tell my woes to, all have a similar reaction and say "get a gun and shoot the lights out", but I don't think there is a strong astronomy community in prison! So, a definite no to that idea.

Thanks to the new POTUS and his idea to wall off the unwanted from the south, I thought that's a great idea, I'll built a wall to keep out the unwanted light pollution from the south. After considerable expense and a lot of personal effort, I built 2 long walls, 2.7 metres high and a total of 50 metres long, that block out the offending lights completely. They have been named "Trump1 and Trump2". So the morons over the road can continue wasting electricity, spoiling their own night sky and never seeing the stars. And you know what, I no longer give a shit. 2017

Trump1 is purely for psychological reasons, so that every time I walk around our house and yards I am not bombarded by the intrusive and excessive glare of the morons lights.

Trump2, along with the back of the caravan and the man cave shed, has created a nice area for observing, blocking the morons and two other, not quite as bad, neighbours. I staggered the sheets of iron either side of the posts so the wind would flow through rather than it acting as one huge sail, this works very nicely.

My only disappointment with the finished product was, I was hoping the wall would look ugly from their side but unfortunately it doesn't look out of place at all, just looks like a country shed made from corrugated iron.

If you think I'm a bit harsh calling them morons, well here's why. Just to clarify, we are not sticky beaks, this all goes on in full view of us.
After the previous tenants (nice people) moved out and before these ones actually moved in, they turned the garage lights on and left them burning 24 hours a day for a number of weeks. This was an omen of things to come. Within the first 12 months they not once but twice, lit fires on hot windy days which both got out of hand, involving several paddocks and other properties. Both required the attendance of Fire Brigades and Police. The first time I said a friendly hello to them, I was ignored and just looked at like I was a piece of shit. I shrugged and thought to myself, well there you go, how are you supposed to take that? They let their small children ride full sized quad-bikes on the public road even though they have plenty of space on their acreage. They even chained our front gate one Sunday, my wife went to go out, couldn't open it, had to come back to the house to get me to open the gates. I tried to get their attention to ask why but I was ignored again. These incidents all add up to the point where I just don't want to make any attempt to understand or even get to know people like that. So, I'll continue to call them morons.

* 2019. Well, after a couple of years with the "Trump" walls up, I have calmed right down and my astronomical observations go on nicely.
Another good consequence of building the walls is we no longer see any of the goings on next door, so they have become quite irrelevant in our lives now.

* 2021. The previous people have sold up and a new family has moved in. So we will see how things go from here. Turns out they are okay :-)

Well known identities like Brian Cox, Neil deGrass Tyson, Fred Watson, Karl Kruszelnicki spend a lot of time publicly promoting astronomy and the wonders of the night sky.
If the current trends of light pollution continue then the night sky will be unobservable from any populated area and severely degraded from whatever is left.
It will become just another casualty on the ever growing list of human caused catastrophes. 

A lot of people these days are shouting "please, we need to save the planet" but in reality, planet Earth will go along quite happily without a human being in existence.
It is the human race that is in danger of drowning in its own filth, greed and stupidity.

If this all sounds like crap to you, then return to your mobile phone and get back to worrying about all the important things in life like the latest shoe fashions, the daily antics of stupid football players and the lifestyles of the rich and shameless.