Constellations and light pollution - Pacifica, CA

by Stacy Jo McDermott

My weekend plans for observing did not go as planned, which on one hand is my fault for not saying "no" to things that eventually interfered with said plans and on the other was the fog, high clouds and moisture that rolled in as soon as the weekend officially started. However, I was able to get out last night due to not being able to sleep for about a half hour to do some nekked eye observing. This also allowed me to see what light pollution conditions I'm facing in my new neighbourhood in beautiful Pacifica.

I woke up around midnight having turned in early due to the work-week beginning. Since I was not able to fall back to sleep I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch Scorpius, Sagitarrius, Hercules and other summer constellations...I was not was a lovely sight. I did see a nice fire ball with an origination from Sagittarius - orange with a green tinge. That was the highlight of my 30 minutes observing session.

I was also able to get a mental handle on the cardinal directions of where I am living now and see what kind of light pollution that I'll have to contend with.

Biggest challenges: Two side neighbours who leave their lights on all night as well as numerous street lights in the front and rear area of the house. The street behind the house has two strategically placed streets lights which can be seen from our backyard. Our backyard neighbours's fences are not that high to block them completely. Also, because there is a nice walkway along the side of our house, street lights directly on my street can be seen if one moves to the east to get a better southern view. The house blocks most of the south and south west. However, by moving to the front courtyard, there is a decent view of the south and south west if it weren't for the streetlights and the westward neighbour's blazing porch light (I swear that this thing is like a prison search light...we don't even have to turn on our porch light to see where we are going.) The neighbour to the east leaves their bathroom light on all night, which faces in!to our backyard. (Thankfully, have been spared any visuals from that window - can not say the same for one of my housemates.)

My initial thoughts to the streets lights are to construct a blind with some black foam core and a C stand for easy manuverability.

For the more offensive house lights, I'm considering holding a block star party and inviting the neighbours (and not just the ones with the offending lights). I figure that way I'll be more readily able to engage them on the importance of the night sky, the costs associated with blazing lights, ect.

Has anyone else been able to convince neighbours the importance of controlled lighting and if so, would you mind writing me off list with your suggestions. My email is m42gal at hotmail dot com