Department of Astronomy & Physics

Diagnosing Light Pollution Sources: the physics and potential remediation

Speaker: Dr. Robert Stencel (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Denver)
Time: August 19, 2019 - 11:00 AM
Location: Loyola 171


In 1879, Thomas Edison was granted a patent for an improved version of an incandescent light bulb using a tungsten filament. Subsequently, improvements have enhanced the efficiency of lighting, most recently with the light emitting diode [LED, ref.1]. However, mis-aimed and reflected light at night waste energy, produce glare and trespass, and culminate in urban skyglow. Over metro Denver, for example, skyglow is measured to be more than 100X natural background, and increasing. This equates to hundreds of megaWatts of electrical power being wasted, a non-trivial fraction of the several gigaWatts consumed locally [2]. Considering the transition toward renewable energy sources and the growing demand for recharging electric vehicles, the inefficiency in night lighting energy can represent a substantial quantity of future energy needs. In addition, the spectrum of skyglow is trending toward shorter wavelengths as a result of widespread adoption of high color temperature (bluer) LEDs [3]. In this talk, I will describe some of the impacts of excess lighting, using local examples, touch upon the known and suspected health hazards of excessive blue/white lighting, and outline some cost effective solutions that can mitigate light pollution sources [4,5].



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