USNA Energy Awareness

Better Lighting and Darker Skies at USNA

The US Naval Academy is investigating (Sept 2004) a solution to its Dark Sky polution from its historical (but inefficient and poluting) street lamps. Over the next months, three lamps will be painted as suggested below, and the project will be re-assessed at that time for its success, and lack of any detraction in the historical appearance of the lamps. The three lamps are the three closest to the Observatory near college creek. [Unfortunately, PWC was out-sourced to AFM contractors and the work was never finished] Below is the original web page calling for action.


NIGHT SKY POLUTION AT USNA: The street lighting at USNA, though classic and historical, is an example of one of the worst methods of inefficient, sky-polluting distractive outdoor lighting. Fixing it can serve as a case study in how simple and cost effective measures can significantly reduce night sky pollution, while also cutting energy waste. Everywhere legislators, and concerned citizens are joining in the movement to clean up the night sky and reduce energy waste. See the Dark Sky Association or look at their brief photos of bad and good lighting practices and their backup slides .

TYPICAL USNA Light-Bomb lighting:

The street lamps at USNA are euphamistically referred to as LIGHT BOMBS because they direct light and wasted energy indiscriminantly in all directions... trying to turn night into day. See the small graphic top left. They pollute the night sky, harm the visibility of pilots, impact driver safety with glare directly into the eyes of drivers, and waste half of their energy radiating light upwards where no one needs it or wants it. Good lighting, as shown on the figure on the top right, wastes no energy upwards and directs the light onto the ground where it is needed. Our proposed cheap-fix is shown below:

THE CHEAP FIX: A typical bureaucratic fix would be to replace all fixtures at tremendous cost. But since such costs would be prohibitive, there is also a very simple and almost free solution. During routine lamp replacement, while the globe is off the post, simply paint the top inside of the globe with gloss white paint. The result is a cheap fix:

  • The exterior appearance of the lamps will remain unchanged in casual appearance.
  • No labor cost when done in conjunction with normal lamp relacement.
  • Night sky pollution will be blocked by the resulting white obaque cap.
  • Lighting on the ground will double because the white will internally reflect energy downward.
  • Replacing bulbs with half-wattage can yield the same light on the ground at half the energy cost
  • Dark Sky pollution in the vicinity of the USNA Observatories will be minimized
  • City kids who have never seen the stars might begin to see the universe.

    PHASE-I: Aside from the asthetics of removing the USNA Blight on the night sky horizon in Annapolis, the USNA will be the prime beneficiary, since its own Clark Telescope and Observatory will see immediate improvement in its visibilty. As one of the attractive public symbols of USNA technology dating back to the 1800's, cleaning up the sky in the vicinity of the telescope could be the first step and a demonstration phase of this innexpensive technique. Not just astronomers, but kids of all ages need to see the sky and be aware of our place in the universe.

    ENERGY AWARENESS: Since October is national energy awareness month, I can think of no better time to get this project moving. Also since many lamps will be undergoing maintenance as a result of the total inundation of lamps all around the seawalls from the hurricane, this is a perfect time...

    Signed: Bob Bruninga, US Naval Academy Satellight Lab, 410-293-6417