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General Astronomy => Light Pollution Topics => Topic started by: contpeeresto on December 24, 2017, 01:22:18 AM

Title: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: contpeeresto 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: sandsibyno 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Matt Gibson 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Matthew Calhoun 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!
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: tranasrixpans 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?!
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Levi Cruse 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: headsbigwardsubs 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!
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Tsar Daniels 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
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Danny Rodriguez 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".
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: brascharnide 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: redoroto 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: bolgsorchumsdea 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: David Lipson 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: David Corder 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.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Gary Allen 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!
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Rodinald Richards on January 12, 2018, 09:19:32 AM
Great points all around. A lot I had not considered. Thanks for the input, I'm glad I asked on here before I pulled the trigger on just sending out a letter.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Daniel Horton on January 12, 2018, 11:55:03 AM
Observing at home we have little control over the neighbors lighting, even if CCN&R's restrict or specify lighting design.
enforcement varies depending on location. Rural areas may be worse.

Absolutely worth talking to them about the lighting . Sure it may go wrong. But it may go right. Helps to know them a bit before talking to them about that.
Ive had mixed success . Tell them its a safety issue ,all the glare. You can't sleep,Kid can't sleep, see your TV , can't see pulling into driveway ect ect. Whatever. Most have little interest other than a glance up here to there.
Sharing some views with them may work .

A letter would freak me out if I got one, just saying.
Some I asked could care less, some complied and turned off the lights- and some forgot after a night or two.
Good luck!
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: James Holt on January 13, 2018, 09:51:51 AM
You're welcome jtrezzo! We all wish you the best of luck in your quest for dark skies there in your neighborhood and glad we all were of some help!

-jim-
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Nathan Harper on January 14, 2018, 01:51:48 AM
I was in a similar circumstance a few years back. During the daytime I introduced myself I also brought them some fresh chicken eggs and a whole bunch of Astro pictures that I had printed out. I left them the eggsand pictures they thoughtastro thingwas really interesting and the lights changed direction. It's nice to get to know people in your neighborhood they even called me for help a few times.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: redsfilrerig on January 15, 2018, 02:36:24 PM
It's always a good idea to get to know your neighbors for more than one reason. That way you never have to resort to an impersonal letter.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Daniel Ferguson on January 18, 2018, 08:58:02 AM
Quote
I have one neighbor nearby, a few houses down, who has an extremely intrusive bright light that shines right at me. It's the only one that mars a relatively dark landscape (for a red zone anyway). I do not know them, never met them. I am considering writing a letter to them explaining my predicament. I wasn't going to write my name or theirs, just use common terms as "neighbor". Has anyone done this successfully? What was your experience? I looked them up and it is a couple of older folks, in their 70s. I guess it doesn't hurt to try.


 "Good fences make good neighbors." -Robert Frost
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: explacgarco on January 20, 2018, 11:41:54 PM
Quote
Once they get a look through your scope with a nice dark surrounding they will understand more. You might offer a look see.

I think we have a winner! I agree.

Make friends, or catch them out for a walk. Invite them over for a look and an adult bevy. Then you can craft how you can work their light into the conversation. If they see how bad it is, they may work with you. I did this and my neighbor leaves her lights off. In fact, she said if she leaves them on and it bothers me to text her and she'll shut them off. Perfect solution and I made a new friend.

If only I could do this to the city's streetlight guy!
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: David Williams on January 21, 2018, 07:06:16 AM
Quote
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

From what I gather, your neighbor doesn't necessarily know that you are an astronomer expecting to benefit from the peaceful enjoyment of your own property. If you approach them, maybe they will be understanding and cooperative, or maybe the exact opposite. However, divulging your personal business to a total stranger, even if a neighbor, might not be in your best interest. So if a tarp will solve your immediate problem, I vote for that.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: rotenoter on January 23, 2018, 05:27:32 PM
Quote
Quote

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

From what I gather, your neighbor doesn't necessarily know that you are an astronomer expecting to benefit from the peaceful enjoyment of your own property. If you approach them, maybe they will be understanding and cooperative, or maybe the exact opposite. However, divulging your personal business to a total stranger, even if a neighbor, might not be in your best interest. So if a tarp will solve your immediate problem, I vote for that.
Yes, a tarp will do as an "observatory".

I have a semi-portable "observatory" that takes me all of 15 minutes to put up. When the moon gets full it goes back in the garage. The neighbors don't even get to see my telescope (though a few have looked through it on occasion).
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: suppsilzuning on January 26, 2018, 01:41:11 AM
As many have already stated, the letter is highly unlikely to have a positive result, no matter how well written. However, before any action is taken, including a personal introduction, be as prepared for a negative reaction as you are hopeful for a positive outcome. The "make friends" approach can also backfire depending on how deftly you are able to segue into the true intent of your friendship overture: the intrusive light. The puzzlement these neighbors may feel as to why a neighbor a few houses down is suddenly interested in them could be replaced by a determination that you are a disingenuous person- depending on how natural the situation plays out.

As a real estate investor I often have to introduce myself to neighbors that are trespassing on my property in some form or another (parking, just hanging out in the yard, etc). I am an introvert who has to pretend to be an extrovert. Over time I have learned to size up and gauge people by body language and have prepared myself accordingly. While my routine work is not analogous to your problem at all in terms of degree of trespass, I only mention it to stresstwo points:

1. Keep in mind the outcome is not only dependent on your own handing of the matter but also on this person's own maturity. That is an unknown variable.
2. Imagine what may go wrong (even if it goes right). Are you prepared for a curmudgeon to give you a dressing down? Are you prepared for a quid pro quo of watching his cats when he goes on vacation because, after all, he helped you out with that silly light thing? If you are unable or unwilling to deal withalternative scenarios then it's better not to proceed.

All in all, a tarp may take less energy.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Zachary Patterson on January 30, 2018, 02:38:29 AM
Quote
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.

Any concerns this hypothetical neighbor might have are entirely in his head, whereas the light trespass he commits is a demonstrable disruption of the peaceful enjoyment of the property of another human being.

The scary one is the one who would use police, lawyers and floodlights to harass someone whose perfectly legal behavior is misunderstood. I think it is a dangerous precedent to have to explain one's legal and moral activities and essentially ask permission of a primitive in order to do them. This country is supposed to be better than that. We stopped burning witches several centuries ago.

/rant over
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: ertafsurpnant on January 30, 2018, 03:52:10 AM
Quote
As many have already stated, the letter is highly unlikely to have a positive result, no matter how well written. However, before any action is taken, including a personal introduction, be as prepared for a negative reaction as you are hopeful for a positive outcome. The "make friends" approach can also backfire depending on how deftly you are able to segue into the true intent of your friendship overture: the intrusive light. The puzzlement these neighbors may feel as to why a neighbor a few houses down is suddenly interested in them could be replaced by a determination that you are a disingenuous person- depending on how natural the situation plays out.

As a real estate investor I often have to introduce myself to neighbors that are trespassing on my property in some form or another (parking, just hanging out in the yard, etc). I am an introvert who has to pretend to be an extrovert. Over time I have learned to size up and gauge people by body language and have prepared myself accordingly. While my routine work is not analogous to your problem at all in terms of degree of trespass, I only mention it to stresstwo points:

1. Keep in mind the outcome is not only dependent on your own handing of the matter but also on this person's own maturity. That is an unknown variable.
2. Imagine what may go wrong (even if it goes right). Are you prepared for a curmudgeon to give you a dressing down? Are you prepared for a quid pro quo of watching his cats when he goes on vacation because, after all, he helped you out with that silly light thing? If you are unable or unwilling to deal withalternative scenarios then it's better not to proceed.

All in all, a tarp may take less energy.

The neighbor is responsible for his cats. He was also responsible for the light trespass. It's all on him, not you.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: izweekwardmas on January 30, 2018, 07:31:35 AM
If it means less consternation and solves the intrusion, light shield (tarp) FTW. Just make it tall enough it covers above the dew shield.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: Eric Castillo on January 31, 2018, 01:16:29 PM
Quote
If it means less consternation and solves the intrusion, light shield (tarp) FTW. Just make it tall enough it covers above the dew shield.

My experiments are showing that the tarp can act as a giant dewshield.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: suctoleshe on February 02, 2018, 04:04:34 PM
If you are on speaking terms with your neighbors, a tarp is a good conversation starter.
 " What the heck is that in your yard?"
  " It's a light shield to block your *@#& light when I'm looking through my telescope. You want a beer?"
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: plicoptorol on February 08, 2018, 09:29:42 PM
Quote
Quote

If it means less consternation and solves the intrusion, light shield (tarp) FTW. Just make it tall enough it covers above the dew shield.

My experiments are showing that the tarp can act as a giant dewshield.
I mean that the tarp should be tall enough it extends above the dew shield on the telescope to avoid incidental light intrusion from the local terrestrial source.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: dextcinthrervest on February 09, 2018, 03:38:31 AM
http://www.dailymail...eeping-tom.html (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2329085/Star-gazing-grandfather-64-banned-using-telescope-balcony-landlord-case-peeping-tom.html#comments)

No comment at this time.
Title: Re: Approaching neighbors about their bright light
Post by: slotiniphin on February 09, 2018, 10:52:00 AM
Quote
http://www.dailymail...eeping-tom.html (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2329085/Star-gazing-grandfather-64-banned-using-telescope-balcony-landlord-case-peeping-tom.html#comments)

No comment at this time.

Without even reading the article, I'd note that a properly made and used light shield also reduces the likelihood someone will complain about the errant astronomer being a peeping tom.

In fact, thanks for the reminder (if indeed my suspicion is correct) . My current setup area is directly in line with a neighbors home facing his bedroom. Although my wall is ~6-1/2 ft tall I intend to make an additional ~2 foot tall extender facing his bedroom to block any direct light from my activities, which will also help keep from any feelings on his part that I'm a lurid freak looking to spy. I probably ought to make getting that thing installed a priority before any confusion sets in.

I can't really comment on the article, (I'm not terribly interested in reading it) although based on the title and presuming his innocence, I suspect he could have avoided the allegation had he used a light shield to block direct viewing of nearby apartments.