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Old 25-02-2019, 07:05 AM
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Ballarat light pollution... getting worse recently ?

I have a feeling the night skies from Ballarat are significantly brighter recently.. I hope I am wrong.

Are there some official data to confirm this?
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Old 25-02-2019, 07:56 AM
glend (Glen)
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Looking at the Light Pollution Map, and toggling between the VIIRS data from 2017 and 2018, I would say your observations are correct, particularly on the outer suburbs. But then do you ever here of it getting better (darker)? It's the nature of human development. Check out the map here:

https://www.lightpollutionmap.info/#...rs=B0FTFFFFFFF
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Old 25-02-2019, 08:21 AM
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That is bad (for me - as I sort od announced some time ago, we will be moving to Ballarat when I retire, which may happen any time, I am still hanging on my current permanent position in company I work for, but "writing is already on the walls".. ).
The problem is also the nature of LP - when we bought the property in Ballarat 2 years ago, it seemed to be yellowish (Sodium lamps were dominant) but last Saturday when I was hunting for Sirius-B with my old 10" Newt (unsuccessfully - diffraction spikes and general visibility conspired against me), the colour of the skies were bluish-whitish.. LED illumination, I presume.

Two years ago I visited Ballarat Municipal Observatory, and Judith told me story about one (mercury) lamp placed at nearby intersection (Cobden and Magpie Street).. all was sort of acceptable until the tree that was making a shade to observation platform was still there, but it was removed by council... All pleads to do something about it were ignored (not sure about the situation at this time, I will check next weekend - unless some more permanent local fills us with this information earlier.
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Old 25-02-2019, 12:02 PM
glend (Glen)
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If you go back and look at the map data for 2016, its pretty obvious it is creaping. If you can get out far enough, say beyond Cardigan or Dunnstown, beyond the green fringe, you might have a few years. However, there would always be a light dome in the direction of town. Anywhere near those main roads is going to be bad, and Ballarat sits at the junction of several major highways.

You could get into narrowband imaging, which can be good even in fairly heavily polluted spots. It is also affected by LED streetlights (Oiii) in particular. Sodium vapour light can be filtered out pretty easily.
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Old 25-02-2019, 12:14 PM
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Well. for quite some time (while I am still around and capable) it will be way better than here in Melbourne - LMC was still visible from backyard, but only just...

Snake Valley is close, and I have C11 on EQ6 which is transportable (sort of), and LXD75 (which can carry Canon FD 400mm f/2.8L), while my 10" Newt will be permanently mounted under the dome in Ballarat..

However, we in VIC (and Au in general) need to apply pressure on councils to do something about light pollution... it not only we amateur astronomers who are affected by this insane waste of power in a form of useless nightly illumnination.

Last edited by bojan; 25-02-2019 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 25-02-2019, 06:54 PM
jamespierce (James)
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We have a site just on the North edge of town. The sky conditions are quite variable with the level of dust in the sky, and I assume lights on... A nice clean sky after midnight can lead to quite dark observing conditions... A bit of moisture and dust in the air and it's not great. Compared to inner city Melbourne it's still very enjoyable and it's practical to get to and stay etc. Ultimately we want a site somewhere darker, but the logistics are a challenge. We will see SQM reading at the low end around ~20.5 and ~21.5 at the high end.
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Old 25-02-2019, 07:51 PM
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I have been to all bar 2 of the Snake Valley Astro Camps and have made the comment a number of times now that the skies from Ballarat are getting brighter and have a definite blue tinge now, on nights with a bit of moisture in the air it is really quite apparent, SQM reading were consistently in the 22"s but have now fallen to the 21"s and at times less..
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Old 25-02-2019, 08:11 PM
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The problems with many LED streetlamps is that they are too white (5000K).
In Europe, now many LED streetlamps are 3000K with incandescent color, which is not sop scattered and provides less LP. Moreover, it is better for getting sleep.
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Old 26-02-2019, 05:33 AM
jamespierce (James)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
I have been to all bar 2 of the Snake Valley Astro Camps and have made the comment a number of times now that the skies from Ballarat are getting brighter and have a definite blue tinge now, on nights with a bit of moisture in the air it is really quite apparent, SQM reading were consistently in the 22"s but have now fallen to the 21"s and at times less..

At the risk of dragging this thread off topic. If you are getting SQM readings in the 22s you probably need a new battery in your unit. The theoretical limit is 22 and in reality extremely dark places central Australian desert struggle to get beyond 21.8 or so because of the impact of the milky-way.
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Old 26-02-2019, 07:29 AM
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I guess my underlaying question was:

"Is there anything we (amateur astronomers) are doing about it?"
I think amateur astronmer's community in Ballarat is very strong (per capita), compared to Melbourne. So theoretically we should have much stronger influence in what council is doing about it.. or not?

I am sure Ballarat council is at some point made aware of the existence of people who would like less light pollution.. (or at least more environmentally and astronomy friendly lighting), after all Ballarat has very vivid astro-history (and Municipal Observatory and Musem is the testimony to that), so is there any specific action/movement established to monitor the deterioration of sky condition and to remind local authorities about the problem?
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Old 26-02-2019, 06:36 PM
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Trying to move a bureaucracy is bad for your health, unless you're lucky enough to have an astro person on the council.
Otherwise the best you can hope for is getting your local lamp shielded.
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Old 26-02-2019, 08:28 PM
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Yes guys you are right Ballarat is expanding, new houses and streets and more so in the direction of the South West, in other words toward Snake Valley and the like.

Leon
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Old 26-02-2019, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bojan View Post
I guess my underlaying question was:

"Is there anything we (amateur astronomers) are doing about it?"
I think amateur astronmer's community in Ballarat is very strong (per capita), compared to Melbourne. So theoretically we should have much stronger influence in what council is doing about it.. or not?

I am sure Ballarat council is at some point made aware of the existence of people who would like less light pollution.. (or at least more environmentally and astronomy friendly lighting), after all Ballarat has very vivid astro-history (and Municipal Observatory and Musem is the testimony to that), so is there any specific action/movement established to monitor the deterioration of sky condition and to remind local authorities about the problem?
Well, advocate less intrusive lighting such as:
* 3000K LED lamps instead of the harsh 5000K. There are even AlInGaP LEDs which have a sodium yellow color (usually on destination signs on buses or signs on road works), those are not so narrow banded as real low pressure Na lamps, but fairly narrow (550-630nm).
* Motion detection lights for security lighting
* Low light output in the wee hours. LEDs can far easily be dimmed than sodium, HID or fluorescent lamps.
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:34 AM
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Originally Posted by leon View Post
Yes guys you are right Ballarat is expanding, new houses and streets and more so in the direction of the South West, in other words toward Snake Valley and the like.

Leon
I was talking to someone from Ballarat city planning, and they informed me that in 20 years the geographical center of Ballarat is estimated to be the roundabout near the old livestock sale yards on Wiltshire Lane and Ballarat Carngham Rd.
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:53 PM
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It's not just the lighting unfortunately, changing climate means a little more water vapour in the air as well as dust due to drought, this affects transparency and the lights tend to be reflected off these particles adding to the issue.
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  #16  
Old 03-03-2019, 04:44 PM
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Ian you are dead right, in a few years your/our sky will be light instead of dark.

Leon
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Old 03-03-2019, 04:49 PM
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And we decided to live in Ballarat after my retirement because of darker sky...

Well, is way easier to get to the (still) dark site from Mt Pleasant, compared to how far it's needed to travel from Mt Waverley...
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Old 03-03-2019, 08:48 PM
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Bojan, it could be worse mate, just keep heading South West and things do improve.
I had an Observatory set up in Birdwood Avenue (Sebastopol) South West of the CBD and ended up with some awesome images, with a decent Light Polluting Filter.

Leon
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