RBA & AF Astrophotography

Thank you, Sunnyvale... not!

Posted: April 23rd, 2010

About two years ago, at one HOA meeting, we decided to shut down a private street light, mainly due to the fact that the light wasn't necessary (the area is already suffering from an excess of illumination).

To me it was very good news for a number of reasons. First because, although I barely do any imaging from home, with that light on, even narrowband imaging is greatly affected, as the light is precisely right in front of my "setup area" and in the part of the only usable sky I get from home (SE to SW, the light being at SE). Second, because the light is so bright and without any kind of shielding, that at night I can see the ceiling of my house excessively illuminated, not to mention how bright everything is even when all the lights inside my home are turned off - something that, leaving astronomy aside, is rather annoying to say the least. Of course I could use window blinds, but the question is... what is the point of making my house look like one of those monuments that are being lit so people can admire them? :-) Anyway, so we all agreed to turn that light off and it has stayed off ever since. Until...

A few days ago a city inspector took a walk around the complex, saw the light off and said "that street light should be on or you'd be violating city code", without even checking whether the light being off would in fact be against city code. Mind you, the street light is private and paid by us, it is not a city light, so all the city needs to make sure is whether the area is already sufficiently illuminated according to certain directives - which I can assure you it is. In any case, last night the light was on again.

Here's an image of the street light, taken before it was shut down about two years ago. The image doesn't do justice as far as the light being produced by this lamp because the photo was taken with flash, and so the exposure is just a split of a second.

I will now try to see if at least we can "officially" add some sort of shielding, but I'm not very optimistic. If I was doing little imaging from home before, with this light back on, the imaging time from home has just been reduced to zero.



Juancito (Contact, Page), April 24th, 2010, 4:58
I donīt know how you will take this comment but:
If the light is that annoying and if I were you, I would try to break it.
I know it's violent, but if nobody gives you another answer to the problem... I think it's for a better good.

RBA (Contact, Page), April 24th, 2010, 15:50
Juancito, well, here's the thing... Even if breaking common property was acceptable, it would only add a few days to "solving" the problem, because the light would be fixed. And frankly, I would rather not to engage into breaking stuff around my house! :-)

What I've done with other lights around that area sometimes is to cover them while I'm imaging, then uncover them when I'm done, and I guess I could do the same for this light.

The problem the "big picture", where a city worker sees a light that is off, and immediately orders the light is turned back on "or you will be violating city code". The thing is, I don't think it would be violating anything, as the illumination in this area is already annoying. If all it takes is for the city to measure illumination and verify that without that light the area is still considered ok (it is excessive I assure you), then that's what should be done.

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