Where are the Stars?

How Light Pollution Affects the View of the Night Sky

If you have never seen a clear, starry sky from a place devoid of light pollution then you don’t know what you’re missing. Here’s a short video by Asif Islam on how light pollution affects the view of the nightly sky. The chain of timelapse movies shows how the view gets progressively better as the light pollution reduces all over the US – from Los Angeles to Great Basin desert.

Find the Darkspots

The darkspots were determined by using darksitefinder.com on finding the locations. Traveling and shooting at every level of light pollution was a challenge. Furthermore, I was mostly alone in some of the locations, which is a bit scary because of the presence of wildlife (bear, mountain lion, snake). Despite the challenge, I was awestruck by the beauty of night sky at very less polluted areas.

Sky Glow and Milky Way

Most of us live under heavily light polluted skies, and some people have never even seen the Milky Way. During a 1994 blackout, L.A. residents called 911 when they saw the Milky Way for the first time. Although we can’t imagine popular cities like L.A. and Manhattan almost dark upon nightfall, we can limit the light pollution specially the sky glow. Sky glow is the result of light directed upward instead of where it is most useful: on streets and homes. Thus most of a city’s artificial light is wasted anyway.

We’re loosing our Connection…

We are losing our connection with the night sky, which provided us with wonders like Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza and the Mayan calendar. It also keeps our overworked, politicized lives simple, and makes us kind, thoughtful. Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson said: “When you look at the night sky, you realize how small we are within the cosmos,” “It’s kind of resetting of your ego. To deny yourself that state of mind, either willingly or unwittingly, is to not live to the full extent of what it is to be human.”

Tips & Trics

Before looking for a dark site, consider what it is you want to see. For many people, getting to a 100% dark sky is not possible without spending an entire day driving. Especially on over-crowded areas, it is hard to find a site where the sky is dark in the direction you want to observe. But keeping a particular direction in mind when finding your spot, will certainly be of great help. For example if you want to see the core of the milky way galaxy, look for a place that is dark to the south with no major cities in that direction.

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Windlicht by Roosegaarde – A Celebration of the Beauty of Green Energy

“Windlicht” is an artwork by Studio Roosegaarde showing the beauty of green energy. By means of special software and tracking technology, the windmill blades are detected to rotate at 280 km / hour. Straight green lines of LED light are connecting the blades of the individual windmills. It creates a dynamic play of light and movement.

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Linking Light and Landscape

With Windlight, Roosegaarde intends to create the missing link between the Dutch and the beauty of our new landscape. I appreciate this project very much because of its awareness generating power to the crowd. The majority of local citizens may complain for years, see these ‘giants’ as a thorn in the flesh, call it horizon pollution. But times are changing, this next generation 21st century windmills are amidst us and part of our next generations life. While struggle about finding appreciated locations at sea goes on, the need and urgency of renewable energy keeps growing. Windlight can be experienced for free on the Eneco windfarm at Sint Annaland in Zeeland, Netherlands.

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Waterlicht on Display in Middelburg, Zeeland, NL

By the way, I heard that the City of Middelburg invited Studio Roosegaarde to illuminate the celebration of 800 years Middelburg City in 2017 by means of it’s Waterlicht installation, an earlier success story of this amazing studio. If you ask me, there’s no more important area in all Western-Europe for raising water flood awareness… Curious to see how that works out!

If you want to learn a bit more on this wonderful area, please refer to the ‘About‘ page of this blog, there’s an impressive movie embedded on this particular area.

Pictures in this post are sourced from Studio Roosegaarde.

Lost in Light – How Light Pollution Affects the Nightly Sky

HOW DOES LIGHT POLLUTION AFFECT THE NIGHTLY SKY AND OUR LIVES?

‘Lost in Light’ is a short film on how light pollution affects the view of the night skies. Shot by Sriram Murali, most shots were taken in California, USA. The movie shows how the view gets progressively better as you move away from the artificial lights.

Finding locations to shoot at every level of light pollution ‘s been quite a challenge for the videographer and getting to the darkest skies with no pollution was a journey on its own.

The night skies remind us of our place in the universe. Imagine if we live under skies full of stars as a tiny part of the cosmos. Imagine kids growing up passionate about astronomy looking for answers.

In reality, most of us live under heavily light polluted skies and some have never even seen the Milky Way. We take the skies for granted and are rather lost in our busy lives without much care for the view of the stars.

Take a moment to ‘break out’ and lose yourself in this wonderful movie!

Source:
Sriram Murali – srirammurali.com

Light at Play – Creating Vitreous Light Effects by RGB LED Lighting Application

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“Lustre: The Way Light interacts with the Surface of a Crystal, a Rock, or a Mineral”.

The word ‘Lustre’ (also referred to as ‘Luster’) traces its origins back to the latin word ‘lux’, meaning “light”. Generally, it implies a radiance, gloss, or sparking brilliance appearance of an object lit by day- or artificial light.

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A variety of terms are used to describe this sparkling light effect, such as earthy, metallic, greasy, and silky. Similarly, the term ‘vitreous’ (derived again from Latin, here from the word glass, vitrum) refers to a ‘glassy lustre’ as we display it here.

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Lustre varies over a wide continuum, and so there are no rigid boundaries between the different types of lustre.
The terms are frequently combined to describe intermediate types of lustre.

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It liturally became my passion to mess around with RGB LED light units and transparent items, such as optics or, like in this case balls of broken crystal glass to optimize the lustre effect. Exciting to see what happens!

If you want more footage, just refer to my Pinterest board ‘Lustre RGB Effects‘. Enjoy!

Lighting Up the Night – Fireflies Blazing Beautiful Patterns in the Dark

Remember watching fireflies light up your back yard on hot summer nights? Fireflies are beautiful, mysterious, and magical. Firefly populations are dwindling all over the world. Here’s a small post on these magical creatures – the most efficient lights in the world!

Fireflies Talk: the Language of Light

Fireflies emit light mostly to attract mates, although they also communicate for other reasons as well, such as to defend territory and warn predators away. In some firefly species, only one sex lights up. Howeer, in most situations the both sexes glow. Very often the male will fly, while females will wait in trees and grasses to spot an attractive male. If she finds one, she’ll signal it with a flash of her own.

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Scientists believe they may flash to drive away predators, claim territory, and communicate with others of their species as well—although the finer points of their language have never been studied extensively. One thing’s for sure, though: without those flashing lights, there could be no fireflies.

Fireflies produce “cold light”

Firefly lights are the most efficient lights in the world—100% of the energy is emitted as light. Compare that to an incandescent bulb, which emits 10% of its energy as light and the rest as heat, or a fluorescent bulb, which emits 90% of its energy as light. Because it produces no heat, scientists refer to firefly lights as “cold lights.”

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Fireflies – How does it Work?

In a firefly’s tail, you’ll find two chemicals: luciferase and luciferin. Luciferin is heat resistant, and it glows under the right conditions. Luciferase is an enzyme that triggers light emission. ATP, a chemical within the firefly’s body, converts to energy and initiates the glow. All living things, not just fireflies, contain ATP.

Fireflies have a short ‘Lifespan’

To stay a bit in ‘the language of light’: the lifespan of fireflies isn’t that long as you may expect. Although being very low consumers of energy with a high eficacy, an adult firefly lives only long enough to mate and lay eggs—so they may not need to eat during their adult life stage. The larvae usually live for approximately one year, from mating season to mating season, before becoming adults and giving birth to the next generation.

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Fireflies – what’s more?

There’s certainly many more to say about these intriguing creatures, but let’s finish with a great movie with night and day timelapses and some references. Enjoy!

If you’re interested in the phenomenon of ‘bioluminescence’, I can recommend you reading one of my other posts ‘Bioluminescent Plankton Create Magical Blue Imagery at Night‘.

The stunning time-lapse images in this article were created by photographer and Artist Tsuneaki Hiramatsu for the Daily Mail.

Optogenetics: Controlling the Brain with Light

This short blogpost illustrates optogenetics — a radical new technology for controlling brain activity with light that I recently rediscovered. Optogenetics is an emerging field of research that is combing ‘optics‘ with ‘genetics’ to modify the activities of brains.

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Researchers genetically modify certain neurons to activate when they receive pulses of light. This is part of the medical field that is studying how to stimulate specific areas of the brain to relieve a host of chronic neurological aliments ranging from depression to Parkinson’s disease.

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This post might be a bit ‘out-of-the-box’, and too research minded. But it think this interesting topic is worth mentioning. Impressive to see what the power of optics and light can do, especially related to the human body and brains. Finally, here’s a movie from MITTechTV explaining this new phenomenon in research:

[Pictures and animations in this post are courtesy of Sputnik Animation, Ed Boyden, and McGovern Institute for Brain Research.]

Bubble Lighting: Liquids and Air Bubbles Create Sublime Ambiance

TANGENT DESIGN’S KIHOU LIGHTS USE LIQUIDS AND AIR BUBBLES TO CREATE EXTRAORDINART LIGHT PLAY

‘KIHOU’ is a quite extraordinary, impressive indirect lighting product using two kinds of liquid and air bubbles. A ceramic bowl is filled with sticky liquid and a thin layer of black silicone oil floats on top. A small pump and LEDs are embedded in the bottom of the bowl, making luminous bubbles rise to the surface from the black liquid.

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Mysterious Light

The indirect lighting product uses two kinds of liquid and air bubbles to realize an effervescent effect of pulsating golden bulbs. The rhythm of bubbles, the unexpected noise, stickiness of the liquid and lightness of the oil, and the mysterious contrast between the golden light and black surface all breathe life into this small cube, sublimating it into a product that people can feel an affinity with.

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Tangent Design Studio

Tangent Design is known for developing unconventional illumination systems, creating ambient environments that result in sublime experiences as evidenced in this recent work ‘Kihou’.

Video and pictures are courtesy of tangent design.