Light Pollution and the Palomar Observatory
Milky Way over Palomar photo by Wally Pacholka of AstroPics.com
What is Light pollution? Light pollution is any adverse effect of light caused by society.
Light pollution is an increasing problem for observatories everywhere. One of the reasons Palomar Mountain was selected as the site for the 200-inch telescope was its dark skies that would allow observation of the faintest galaxies without the interference of city lights. Since 1934, rapid urbanization of southern California has resulted in a significant increase in the amount of sky glow. If such light pollution continues to increase, it will seriously reduce the effectiveness of the Palomar Observatory for many types of research.
Caltech and the Palomar Observatory have worked with and will continue to work with City, County, & Tribal governments to diminish the effects of local light pollution.
|This simulation (3.6 mb) shows how the increase of light pollution over time makes the night sky harder and harder to see -- not only for astronomers working at Palomar, but for everyone all over the Southern California region.|
This partial panorama looks southwest (left), through north (center, towards the 200" dome), to northeast (right). It reveals the sky glow caused by lights in San Diego County (left), Riverside County (center) and Palm Springs (right). Photographed February 4, 2005
Sky Preservation at Palomar Observatory (Published in 1991, but still holds true today.)
Lighting information for local home owners. (Adobe Acrobat file)
What can you do to help control light pollution in your area?
Riverside County's Light Pollution Ordinance (No. 655)
San Diego County's Light Pollution Ordinance - Choose "Frames" or "No Frames" and then put "light pollution" into the search window
San Diego County's Dark Skies and Glare Guidelines for Determining
Significance (Draft Version)
San Diego county light zone map
City Ordinances Within San Diego County:
City of Chula Vista - Updated link
City of Escondido - Article 35 Outdoor Lighting Ordinance
Reducing Outdoor Retail Lighting - a brochure from the Escondido
City of Imperial Beach Lighting Regulations City of Oceanside Light Pollution Regulations - Chapter 39
City of Poway 17.08.220 Section L
City of San Diego Lighting Code
City of San Marcos (search for lighting in the document)
City of Vista (pages 10 - 13)
City Ordinances within Riverside County:
City of Murrieta's Mount Palomar Lighting Standards (16.18.110)
http://www.amlegal.com/library/ca/murrieta.shtml, choose frames or no
frames and enter 'Palomar' in the search window.
The City of Temecula adheres to Riverside County's Light Pollution Ordinance (No. 655)
Learn more about light pollution:
Visibility, environmental, and Astronomical Issues Associated with Blue-Rich
White Outdoor Lighting and
Seeing Blue - a less technical article on the effects of blue-rich
white outdoor light
Star Parties & Observing the Night Sky:
- Also see their evening tours of Palomar Observatory
Palomar Sky Brightness Data collected by the National Park Service Night Sky Team on March 24, 2006.