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Starry, Starry Night

Take a break from "light pollution" every once in a while. Switch off all the city lights, and watch the stars.
  (+15, -1)(+15, -1)
(+15, -1)
  [vote for,

This is a very simple idea, and nice and scalable. I’ll start on a small scale, then: One night a year, your city has a Starry Hour. And all this means is that between 2 and 3 am all the lights go off, so that those who want to see what their sky actually looks like can go and stargaze without any light pollution.

Actually a more sensible small scale implementation would be to have a series of starry quarter hours, so as not to have to cope with a full hour of darkness. There are numerous possible variations on the “small start theme”, such as a longer period of darkness in a restricted area such as around a large park, but I think the single hour is going to be easier for most people to imagine, and plan around.

It would be a shame to stop there, wouldn’t it? A monthly Starry Hour could lead to an eventual Starry Night.

And then things get even more interesting as they evolve, and the Starry folk keep looking for more Starriness in their lives. How about smart street lamps, for instance? There’s no need to murder the environment just to light an empty street in a sleeping town, surely? That’s a whole new idea, but lots of those would flow from the evolution of Starry Hour.

I dream of the day when every night is even just a little bit starry.

skoomphemph, Feb 25 2014

turned off lights http://usatoday30.u...-streetlights_N.htm
[xandram, Feb 25 2014]

Brits got the idea 2 years later than ^ http://www.dailymai...d-HALF-Britain.html
[xandram, Feb 25 2014]

Night Vision For All Night_20Vision_20For_20All
Say goodbye to light pollution. [8th of 7, Feb 25 2014]

Earth Hour http://www.earthhour.org/
Good place to start. [tatterdemalion, Feb 28 2014]


       Welcome to the HB!   

       I like this idea. Even out in the countryside, there are streetlights that could be turned off now and again.   

       Incidentall, the Norfolk term for a skoomphemph is badger. No idea why.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 25 2014

       You get a much better view from even a low orbit.
8th of 7, Feb 25 2014

       Hi and bun. Although I think this is done in the countryside...for instance, the town I live in is so broke, one has to pay a monthly fee for a street light to be on if you live on a side street or in a remote area! I don't care because I live in the woods. If they ever put a street light near my house, I'd throw rocks at it until it goes out! +
xandram, Feb 25 2014

       Hmm ... looks like this annotate button is the one ... Hi, folks. I'm actually quite a long-term lurker round this part of the Web. It's taken quite a few years for me to overcome my propensity for idleness, and contribute something.   

       Mind you, if someone imagines they've come up with something unheard of, all they need do is search these archives to find out it was baked in 1752 or 2007 or thereabouts. So I do have the excuse of a long drought of originality.   

       How many years of lurking is it before you transform from lurker to stalker, I wonder? Much as I don't like the sound of it, I may well count as some kind of cyberian stalker. I wonder where I could get a T-shirt that says that?   

       Interesting to see that the lights are going off anyway. All the towns doing this need now do is look on the bright side, yes? Not "plunged into darkness" but "wrapped in lovely starry darkness". That's how to talk about the lights going out.
skoomphemph, Feb 25 2014

       Got to see a clear night sky on a still ocean out of sight of any land once.
I'll never forget it.

       Welcome [skoomph]! Nice idea. I live in a place with very, very little light pollution, and one glance at the sky on a clear night reminds me just how lucky I am. More people need to gaze into the depth of the cosmos with their own eyes; if nothing else, it forever alters your perspective of scale, which occasionally results in a slightly more thoughtful and courteous person (I done seen it happen!). Have a starry, starry bun.
Alterother, Feb 25 2014

       // that criminals can now look forward to an hour of unbroken darkness in which to operate. //   

       Not necessarilly.   

8th of 7, Feb 25 2014

       Hi Stalurker, nice to meet you, after all these years. I love your idea. It's a beautiful one. +
blissmiss, Feb 26 2014

       Glad to take up residence here. There's quite a difference between looking in and visiting. (Obviously, but one feels the difference on settling into the armchair ... suspended from the skyhook, and so on). Nice to meet you all in person like this (well, near as dammit, right?).   

       I spent a few years of my life on an African farm, and in the Winter, when it's bone dry, crisp, and frosty, the night sky looks almost shiny black - like polished shoes shine, maybe? Beautiful.   

       As for criminals looking forward to Starry Night, yes, that does complicate things a bit. This idea is a bit half-baked. But that demands that one half-bake some solutions. If the lights came on whenever someone walked past, that would make things as difficult for criminals as the existing lights, but would create problems of its own - stargazers would be found lurking in dark alleys, perhaps.   

       The night vision idea looks interesting. I must go and have a look.
skoomphemph, Feb 26 2014

       You could simply have unpredictable power outages, like they do in much of Karachi. I don't recommend repeating their other security practices though.
RayfordSteele, Feb 26 2014

       If the police had proper (expensive) night vision kit, your average street hoodlum would be at a disadvantage in the dark.   

       Against the police, that is. Faced with you and me, it would be like being a crocodile on the Mara River when the wildebeest came through.   

       The amateur astronomers would have to hang around in gangs. In the US, they could all just buy AK 47s to guard their turf? Or paintball guns. Or they could write emergency services summons apps for their iPhones.
skoomphemph, Feb 26 2014

       I understand that from the bottom of a well, one can see the stars even in the daytime. Think how many more would be out at night!   

       Public officials may decline to do this because of too many people on their roofs shooting "robbers" out for a brisk run in the dark. Those wanting to see stars could retire to a handy well.   

       In fact one could open an establishment called "The Well" with a tall open topped chimney serving this purpose. Maybe put the establishment in the bottom of a defunct grain silo - ready made! "Well" would be a double entendre because the drinks would flow.   

       Maybe a triple entendre because it is located across from a hospital.
bungston, Feb 26 2014

       //I understand that from the bottom of a well, one can see the stars even in the daytime //   

       Incorrect. This is an urban legend.
8th of 7, Feb 26 2014

       //criminals can now look forward to an hour of unbroken darkness// Ah, but they can't mug people they can't see, can they?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 26 2014

       // In the US, they could all just buy AK 47s to guard their turf? //   

       I think you've got the US confused with Africa there. The United States allows its citizens to own fully automatic firearms, but it is prohibitively expensive and involves much red tape and submitting your fingerprints to multiple federal agencies.   

       As I mentioned, I live in a place where it gets very dark at night, yet I am not beset with nocturnal marauders. Why is this, I wonder?   

       I'll tell you why: it's because everybody around here keeps a loaded shotgun in the house, somewhere handy but out of the kids' reach. We all know each other and we get along just fine, and nobody goes into anybody's house and takes their stuff without permission, and we all have shotguns. My town doesn't even have a police department. We don't need one. We have shotguns. Everyone scoffed when Biden went off-script, but he was absolutely right: if you're so worried about looting and rapine the moment the lights go out, buy a shotgun.   

       Pax Spargens Missilium.
Alterother, Feb 26 2014

       I am aware of that. I still say they'd fare better if every honest and moral citizen had a Rem 870 in their umbrella stand. Even if city dwellers were confined to loading beanbags or gel rounds, the near-surety of a very painful experience in the immediate future would shirley set a would-be bandit's teeth on edge.
Alterother, Feb 26 2014

       Oh, and we don't have any sheep around here. I think somebody up the valley has some alpacas, though any man who wants to take a run at one of those things is asking for a barnyard vascectomy.
Alterother, Feb 26 2014

       In some places in Mexico, the 'average street hoodlum' is better-equipped, and could presumably be so with nightvision, than the law enforcement and local military outpost.
RayfordSteele, Feb 27 2014

       // since you're never going to get a shotgun into every home, Darwinian natural selection might have a chance to run its course //   

       You raise an interesting point, Sir Quest...
Alterother, Feb 27 2014

       //don a white WW1-style helmet and go from house to house shouting at the top of my lungs "PUT OUT THAT LIGHT!"?//   

       Actually, what you mean is 'don a black ARP warden's hat and go from house to house shouting at the top of my lungs "PUT THAT LIGHT OUT!"'
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 27 2014

       // Alter, your community does have sheep alright, they're just in hiding. //   

       Ah, that probably means there are welshmen in the area.   

       // since you're never going to get a shotgun into every home... //   

       You'll never get anywhere if you don't try.   

       // ya know what, on second though, since you're never going to get a shotgun into every home, Darwinian natural selection might have a chance to run its course a little more effectively. //   

       Bun for that.   

       // The dark hour must (read: MUST) be preceded by an air raid siren, and can I don a white WW1-style helmet and go from house to house shouting at the top of my lungs "PUT OUT THAT LIGHT!"? //   

       If you want to do an impersonation of Warden Hodges, you must don a white WW2 helmet with ARP on it in black (sans-serif font) and shout "PUT THAT LIGHT OUT !".   

       Failure to conform to the Authorised Version of Dad's Army TO THE LETTER will not only result in your being used for bayonet practice ("The old cold steel ... they don't like it up 'em, Mr Mainwaring, they don't like it !") but may also result in quite a lot of people Being A Bit Ticked Off With You, Actually ...   

       <Captain Mainwaring>   

       "Stupid boy ! "   

       </Captain Mainwaring>
8th of 7, Feb 27 2014

       Do you really think that's wise, sir?   

       Incidentally, for those unable to escape light pollution, how about a series of laser-bored pinholes in the eyelids, representing the major constellations?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 27 2014

       I see I'm going to have to valiantly retreat to just an hour or two of darkness after midnight, what with all the packs of hoodlums yahooing all over the place, gunning down the police as they go.   

       But surely a few hours (maybe just three or four) are manageable? Yes, sure, they'd only be of use to gangs of amateur astronomers, who would have to rally like bikers at some central location, and perhaps park their SUVs in laager formation, but they have needs, too, just like the Hells Angels do.   

       Not everyone would be willing to take the risk of going out, but those not ready to hit the hoods with their scary terminology, and intimidating obsessive expressions could either sleep through the ordeal or just keep drinking till dawn.   

       And burnt eyeball tatoos (projective tatoos?) would be just the thing for astronomy gangs to wear as a show of unity? Who else would want to keep looking at the negatives of a picture of the night sky all day?   

       ... er ... from what I've seen, eyeball burning could quite easily turn into a fad, come to think of it.   

       Edit. It's *eyelid* piercing... The market just grew a thousandfold. Tattoo shops with secret access to the Halfbakery will probably do the first eyelid holes tomorrow morning.
skoomphemph, Feb 27 2014

       //We evolved Americans had the common sense to upgrade our kit in the time between wars. //   

       Well, of course; you had two full years between the war starting and you actually joining in - plenty of time to fiddle around redesigning helmets, cleaning fingernails, sharpening all the pencils, and lining your battleships and aircraft up in neat rows to make it easier for the japs to bomb them ...
8th of 7, Feb 28 2014

       // The war started two years early //   

       The Germans had the same problem.
Alterother, Feb 28 2014

       Even the Russians joined in before the Yanks ... must be something of a record ...   

       // How many years of lurking is it before you transform from lurker to stalker, I wonder? //   

       If you're American, two years, three months and four days (3rd September 1939 - 7th December 1941).
8th of 7, Feb 28 2014

       well, they only entered the European theater because of the Japanese attack, the Japan-Germany alliance formed the legal basis for that. The war had Pacific origins for the USA. July 7th 1937 is when that started. So it's more like 4 years 5 months.   

       Conspicuously, just slightly longer than they waited for the WW1. They find it hand when nearly everybody is already dead.
bs0u0155, Feb 28 2014

       I have a regret.   

       I feel that I have unintentionally tainted this beautiful Idea with talk of guns and war. I'll probably still engage in the ongoing discussion, because I can't resist, but I regret taking up the topics in this particular anno stream.   

       That is all.
Alterother, Feb 28 2014

       //we really didn't *have* to get involved in the European campaign at all. //   

       Oh how true. Far better to stay safely at home, selling weapons and counting the money, while others do all the fighting and dying to keep the world safe for Democracy ...   

       // WW2 was pretty much your problem to deal with. //   

       ... apart from the Philipines ("Independence ? What's that, then ? Oh, part of a strong anti-colonial tradition ... ?") and a half-dozen sunken battleships ...   

       // You're lucky we showed up at all, you ungrateful git.//   

       Oh, you want to try for ingratitude ? This is just bitterness and irony, but we have several barrels of fresh, steaming hot ingratitude right here, just ready to serve up.   

       The next time you want someone to come along and hold your ikkle handie while you bash the towelheads, why don't you try your old allies, the french ? Oh, they were keen enough in 1776, true, but since then they've been conspicuous by their absence, like their absence after Dien Bien Phu where they buggered off and left you to clean up the mess in South-East Asia. What a shame you didn't manage it ...
8th of 7, Feb 28 2014

       Time for [skoomphemph]'s first trim around the garden, make judicious use of those delete annotation shears.   

       Have some respect for his first endeavour, fellows. There was an idea in here a moment ago.
tatterdemalion, Feb 28 2014

       I'd clean up my own muddy bootprints if I wasn't such a devout Antideletionist (Neo-Orthodox).
Alterother, Feb 28 2014

       What [21Q] said.   

       // Have some respect for his first endeavour, fellows //   

       Actually, it's quite an honour to host a portion of the ongoing Brits v. Yanks mudslinging, especially in a first post.
8th of 7, Mar 01 2014

       //The war started two years early // The Germans had the same problem.   

       You mean, they started the war in 1937 and didn't tell anyone? That's hardly sporting.
not_morrison_rm, Mar 01 2014

       Thanks to the defenders of the Starry Skies, but being a glass house inhabitant, I'd better not throw stones. And let's face it; the idea is so simple that it doesn't take long to exhaust its permutations.   

       Actually what I'd really like to see is all the lights being roofed in, so the idea I've posted is a compromise. When you're up on the roof of your city, you shouldn't be able to see it, anyway, making the whole idea moot.   

       As to WW2, I think there was a delay before South Africa decided to make the decisive contribution, too. This was on account of the unilateral decision of the government of 1914 to go to war's having provoked a rebellion, with some bloodshed. (Some of the Boers of that time were still bitter about family members who died in British concentration camps.)   

       Luckily for the Free World, South Africa came to the rescue, and Hitler was defeated. There was a bit of a rebellion again, but not many people died. (Unfortunately the then rebels went on to become the government, etc etc)   

       OK, so maybe I exaggerate the significance of the Saffer contribution a little.   

       But in keeping with the spirit of counterfactuality, I'll just claim that they *would* have made the decisive contribution. Trouble was, they didn't do the sensible thing, and retreat when all was lost in one of the Alamein battles (I forget which one). They kept on fighting, Rommel kept on killing them, and eventually they were all dead; and from then on there just weren't enough South Africans left to win the war by Christmas.   

       So you point out that the fact that Rommel was able to kill them all seems to suggest that they were not ever going to turn the war around? In some ways, maybe. But he was using tanks, and they were using rifles, so he cheated. I meant that the right way to end the war would've been to give them tanks so that there was a level playing field.
skoomphemph, Mar 01 2014

       Of course, if you're Ethiopian, it started in 1935 and was pretty much over by May 1941 - and EVERYONE ELSE can be blamed for turning up late - with the possible exception of Evelyn Waugh and Bill Deedes.   

       By the way, [+] for the idea.
pertinax, Mar 02 2014

       Ah yes, Ethiopia. That also caused a delay in South Africa dealing Hitler his coup de grace. It took a long time to liberate Ethiopia, even with all the Ethiopian help in the matter.   

       So there you go. The CO made the tactical error of not retreating in that battle where everyone was killed, and there was the delay in Ethiopia to take into account.   

       (Fortunately in the First World War, the South Africans sorted out Tanganyika and what's now Namibia, otherwise the delay would have gone on even longer)
skoomphemph, Mar 02 2014

       //Evelyn Waugh //   

       Indeed, this is the origin of the well-known phrase, "The horrors of Waugh". How they must have suffered ...   

       //The CO made the tactical error of not retreating in that battle where everyone was killed //   

       It's known as "The Sandhurst Effect"   


       Hmm, we scent a potential ally in the next round of Yankee-baiting ...   

8th of 7, Mar 02 2014

       Thank goodness nobody has mentioned the Australians.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 02 2014

       //the next round of Yankee-baiting//   

       Really? I mean, it's all good fun the first few times, but isn't it getting a bit old?   

       {strikes a posture}   

       Is it for this that our gracious hostess keeps the server up?
pertinax, Mar 03 2014

       That and all the rest of our unique and priceless nonsense.
Alterother, Mar 03 2014

       //I mean, it's all good fun the first few times, but isn't it getting a bit old ? //   

       <Basil Fawlty>   

       "Well, you started it ..."   

       </Basil Fawlty>
8th of 7, Mar 03 2014


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