Author Topic: Approaching neighbors about their bright light  (Read 113 times)

contpeeresto

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 114
  • Activity:
    16%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« on: December 24, 2017, 01:22:18 AM »
I have one neighbor nearby, a few houses down, that has a very intrusive glowing light that shines right in my own.  It's the only one that mars a relatively dark landscape (for a red zone anyhow).  I don't know them, never met them.  I am considering writing a letter to them explaining my plight.  I was not going to write my name or theirs, just use common terms as "neighbor".  Has anyone done this successfully?  What was your experience?  I looked up and it is a few elderly people, in their 70s.  I guess it does not hurt to try.



sandsibyno

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
  • Activity:
    24%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 11:27:03 AM »
I would approach them in person, explain that you are an amateur astronomer and bright lights detract from your pursuit. Invite them over to view! Say that they couldn't have known and are not obligated, but you would appreciate if you could work something out. Most important not to put them on the defensive. My 2 cents.

Matt Gibson

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 141
  • Activity:
    22%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2017, 11:10:23 AM »
Rather than a letter, perhaps take the time to go & introduce yourself, and explain in person about the light. A letter unsigned would rather upset me, I'd wonder if someone might be watching me; but a personal visit would at least give each a chance to reach an agreement.

To me, an unsigned letter is rather cowardly.

Matthew Calhoun

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 122
  • Activity:
    17.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 03:55:26 PM »
Walk over and talk to them in a neighborly fashion.

Being older folks they may actually like to be friendly with the neighbors, after all that was the normal way of living back in the day. Today, not so much.

Being nice is always the way to go. Sending an unsigned letter may just scare them more and force them to put up even more lighting for "added protection from the unknown unhappy person".
Or you could go over in the middle of the night, armed and dangerous and juice to the hilt and demand that they conform to your wishes.

Man, try using some common sense. Geesh!

tranasrixpans

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 120
  • Activity:
    19.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2017, 04:46:32 PM »
Well, as I suggested in another post here a week or so ago regarding a light-polluting "neighbor"--a car dealership w/ bright lights on all night in that case--you might want to invite this elderly couple out for an (early) evening of star-gazing w/ you some night, so they can "see" what their bright light is doing to you there. Whether you should do that in-person, or by letter, I don't know, but again, think if these people that like to have bright lights on on their houses/businesses all night long could be made to experience what that does to someone who needs dark skies to pursue his/her hobby, then that's a better approach than just trying to tell them their light is bad, is not needed, is wasted light, etc., etc. Then if they refuse to come look thru your scope at night, then you can always revert back to some other approach, like complaining to them, or to city hall, etc.

Anyhow, wish you the best of luck in this--keep us posted on your progress?!

Levi Cruse

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 126
  • Activity:
    22.67%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2017, 05:03:22 PM »
Better yet, introduce yourself but say nothing about the light. Proceed slowly, invite them over sometime to have a look through your telescope. Show and tell can be far more effective than letters from strangers asking for something. If they need the light to feel safe perhaps you can arrange a partial shield that serves both interests. Be creative.

headsbigwardsubs

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 126
  • Activity:
    19.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2017, 08:09:06 PM »
Good to see that there's some agreement here on how you should handle this situation jtrezzo, i.e., talking to the neighbors in person rather than by letter (and as someone else said, I'd never send them an unsigned letter--that's cowardly and again they might feel threatened by that and put up even more lights!).

And again, I'd ask them if they'd be interested in looking at the stars, planets, etc., some night thru your scope--as with most people, they may never have looked thru a telescope in their lives--at which time you can point out the effect their light is having on you in your yard. And even if you can't convince them to turn off their light after a certain time of night, maybe there's a way they could add shielding to it to keep it from shining towards you? If so, you might even offer to look into a shield for them and perhaps volunteer to install it for them, if they are elderly and not able to get up on step-ladders to do something like that.

Anyhow, again, good luck!

Tsar Daniels

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
  • Activity:
    21.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 12:27:19 PM »
Good points. I didn't really think of it that way. It was going to be a very nice letter though! I am generally not a very social person myself, so that was my reason for not wanting to go in person. I feel like I can elaborate and explain things better in a written context. Perhaps if I do write, I should use my name and extend an invitation in it to come view, at least to show I am being sincere and not malicious in any way.

I had been planning on building a big screen with an 8x10' black tarp and PVC piping anyway that can be moved in and out of my garage, I just figured it would be easier to see if they would turn it off first

Danny Rodriguez

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 133
  • Activity:
    25.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 09:18:08 PM »
Quote
I am generally not a very social person myself

Sometimes we have to work outside of our comfort zone. You can start off by smiling and saying "Hello".

brascharnide

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 129
  • Activity:
    22%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 02:17:46 AM »
Once they get a look through your scope with a nice dark surrounding they will understand more. You might offer a look see.

redoroto

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 114
  • Activity:
    15.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2018, 08:19:52 AM »
Completely agree with the majority of the suggestions here, particularly the 'invite them over to view', and 'do it in person'. A letter asking them for something (even nicely) when you have never talked to them could come off really cold.

bolgsorchumsdea

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
  • Activity:
    18%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 11:26:19 PM »
Ok, I have been thinking about this for just a few minutes and I have come up with this. It is not aimed at jtrezzo, but to all who may be in a similar situation and looking for answers.

So, lets put the shoe on the other foot.Lets say you are a nice person just looking up in the sky at stars and the such. But there is a person who doesn't know what you're doing out late at night with a telescope.

What would you like that person to do to you in order to resolve their concerns.
A. Call the cops and report you as a Peeping Tom. (investigation will start and your name will be on a police record as a suspected Peeping Tom)

B. Have their Lawyer write you a letter demanding that you not use the telescope within view of their house or legal action would be taken.

C. Shine a bright light directly on your viewing position so that you can't look into their windows.

D. Stop over one night and pretend that they are interested in what you're doing and show some interest in your hobby, only for the reason to determine what you are actually doing.You know, it may cause concern to see a person out in their back yard with a telescope at night, especially if all evidence of their activities are gone by morning light. It's kind of spooky!

Why don't YOU take the responsibility of your hobby and do what is right. Why not build an "observatory" of sorts, one that can easily be put up and taken down, so as not to alarm the people living close to you.

Did you ever think that these people with bright lights are just trying to protect their privacy from some stranger with a telescope. Maybe you are the scary one.

David Lipson

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
  • Activity:
    20%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 02:44:23 PM »
I did something similar where I used to live. A neighbor 3 houses away and on a street that ran at a right angle to mine, had a real problem with feeling safe. He moved to the country after living years in the city. He installed two sets of flood lights that were pointed horizontally right at my roll off roof observatory. When I veiwed to the east, they would shine right into my eyes and ruined any dark adaption I may have had. I put up with the lights for several months. One night I saw him outside after dark when I setting up to observe. I went over and introduced myself. I pointed to my observatory and said I was just setting up to do some observing and would he like to come over and have a look. He said he had wondered what that building with the rails behind it was. We looked at a few well chosen dim objects before I pointed the scope toward the east and over his house. I watched him squint at the bright lights shinning in his eyes. I politely said I need to talk to you about your lights. I asked him why he needed such bright lights and he said for security. He also kept a dog outside in his yard that would bark at me most of the time I observed. I assured him he was now living in very safe country neighborhood. It must have worked. He went home afterwards and turned the lights down towards the ground where they didn't shine directly in my eyes. Soon after, he would turn them out when he would see me at the observatory and bring the dog in the house.

David Corder

  • Jr. Astronomer
  • **
  • Posts: 98
  • Activity:
    13.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 04:40:57 PM »
Yeah, well I'm not a very social person either, and like you, I find I can explain myself better in writing than verbally, so can understand why you would prefer that approach, but again, in this situation, as most here have said, I think the direct, in-person approach might be best. If you're hesitant about going over and knocking on their door, maybe you can try to catch one of them while they're outside doing something in their yard, like getting the mail, etc? And again, as someone else suggested, you might not even mention their light at first, just say hi to them, introduce yourself, tell them your an amateur astronomer and wanted to get to know your neighbors better, and ask if they'd like to come over some eve to look at stuff thru your scope (and you might even invite a couple other neighbors over the same night too, in the spirit of getting to know your neighbors better...). Then once they are in your yard at night, hopefully it will be self-evident to them what their light is doing to you. If not, then you could say something like "Our skies are pretty dark around this neighborhood, but I've noticed that your (new) light there in your yard is causing quite a bit of glare over here as you can see, so was wondering if you could either turn off your light after a certain time each night, or try adding a shied to it, or putting in a lower wattage bulb, etc, etc? Again, hopefully once in your yard and looking thru your scope, they will see that their light is affecting your views and will agree to do something about it. Is worth a try anyhow. Hopefully they are nice, rational, understandable folks who are just ignorant about what light pollution is and that they are contributing to it, on a local scale at least. (and as I said elsewhere, this might be a good opportunity to introduce them to the whole idea of global light pollution, etc, pointing out to them what that has done to professional astronomers and observatories world-wide, but especially here in the US--and Europe--maybe have one of those satellite maps at night of the US handy to show them if they seem receptive to the idea of light pollution and after agreeing they're willing to help you out by turning down/off their light, etc.) Again, most people I don't think have given the concept much/any thought.

Gary Allen

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
  • Activity:
    20%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 04:55:23 PM »
Great story pstarr! Am hoping that's the way it will go with our topic starter here and his neighbor. I'm hoping tho that he won't have to build an observatory--nor erect walls all around his yard--to keep the lights from shining into his yard. Again, think this--your--approach is the best way to go in this situation. Hope it works for him too!