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LED Streetlights Increase Light Pollution

(August 12)

When you are outside tonight trying to see shooting stars from the Perseids Meteor Shower, you can blame your City Council and maybe even yourself if you see fewer meteors tonight compared to previous years.

A new study confirms my worries about using LEDs for streetlights and outdoor lighting. They make the problem of light pollution WORSE, not better! City Planners and the general public have dropped the ball by squandering their savings realized through higher energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs to now splash outdoor light indiscriminately over much more landscape, allowing a dramatic increase in the amount of direct and scattered light that is now heading upwards to make the sky glow, blotting out even more stars compared to just a few years ago.

I've been doing battle for over a decade with neighbours who have replaced their old tungsten lightbulbs in their poorly designed outdoor light fixtures with "cheaper-to-operate" compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), flooding my property two doors over and my upstairs bedroom window two floors up with bright white light from their garage and porch lights that they now leave on all through the night. Sometimes I invite them over to show them interesting things in the night sky by eye and as viewed through my telescope, which lets them see for themselves the problem their outdoor lighting causes. Unfortunately, they don't understand that I do this as a hobby and a profession and they need to TURN OFF OUTDOOR LIGHTS when they go to sleep EVERY NIGHT.

It's remarkable that during an epoch when Society is seeing an unprecedented number of beautiful and awe inspiring images of the celestial realm, modern society has never been so removed from actually seeing the nighttime sky for themselves. I guess it's because all those beautiful Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images are streaming in over the Internet largely used only as "eye-candy". Rarely is it ever explained that many of the things shown in HST images, like the Orion Nebula or the "Pillars of Creation" (M16) have been known for hundreds of years and VIEWABLE BY ANYONE using even a very modest (~$100) telescope, IF YOU ARE VIEWING FROM A SUITABLY DARK LOCATION (i.e.- away from light pollution).

We need to tell our politicians, councillors, developers, manufacturer, suppliers and neighbours that LIGHT POLLUTION is EVERYONE'S PROBLEM and that it can be CURED and even made PROFITABLE in more ways than just money. Please join me in trying to stop light pollution, starting tonight right in your own backyard.

Wishing everyone clear AND DARK skies,

--Ian Shelton, DDOD Chair

The David Dunlap Observatory lies nestled in the heart of Richmond Hill, Ontario, a city of 200,000 just north of Canada's largest city, Toronto. The 190-acre oasis of mature forests, pastures and springs is home to two distinct deer herds and an abundance of other wildlife, including a coyote pack, foxes, voles, rabbits, honey bees, many species of butterflies, and birds including hawks, owls, doves, crows and songbirds. The property represents the last and largest urban open green space in southern Richmond Hill.


Originally deeded to the University of Toronto by the philanthropist Jessie Donalda Dunlap in memory of her husband David, the Dunlap Observatory opened on May 31st, 1935. Its magnificent 74-inch telescope was the second largest in the world at that time and has been used through seven decades to conduct much groundbreaking research, including the discovery of the first known black hole, Cygnus X-1.

In 2007, the University of Toronto wrested control of the land from Jessie Dunlap's heirs through a protracted legal case spanning 4 years. They then broke the public covenant that the land would remain a park and a research and outreach centre in perpetuity by selling the property to a developer intent on replacing most of the greenspace with hundreds of houses.

The DDO Defenders have been working hard to represent the public and inform all levels of government about what will be lost if the developer is allowed to proceed.


On April 12th, 2012, after six long and anxiety-ridden months of Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) mandated mediation following a four year hard-fought and very public battle, an agreement was reached in March between the mediation parties to the David Dunlap Observatory Lands OMB case.

Minutes of Settlement were drawn up for signing by all parties to the mediation -- the landowner, Corsica Development Inc. (a subsidiary of MetrusDevelopments Inc.), the Town of Richmond Hill, the Region of York, the Toronto and Area Conservation Authority (TRCA), and the David Dunlap Observatory Defenders (DDO Defenders) Inc. This historic document was ratified by Richmond Hill Town Council on Thursday, April 12th. All mediation parties had been sworn to absolute secrecy under a strict gag order until Council signed off on the agreement, but now the silence has finally been broken and the details of the settlement agreement can be made public. (read more)

For further information or to offer support, please contact:

Ian Shelton - Chair, DDO Defenders Inc.
sn87a@hotmail.com or (905) 762-0072

The Minutes of Settlement is posted at the Town of Richmond Hill - DDO webpage.


Please support our Community Advocacy

The DDO Defenders are deeply committed to preserving the David Dunlap Observatory, surrounding Lands and the Dunlap Legacy. Our mandate is to ensure that the campus continues to operate as a world-class astronomical and astrophysical research facility and a centre of excellence in public Outreach, Education and Experiential Learning regarding all aspects of Science and the Natural World.

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DDO Defenders
240 Bantry Avenue
Richmond Hill, ON
Canada L4B 4H9.

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Call us at (905) 762-0072