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Let's Use LED Lights to Bring Back the Night Sky

Created 4/30/2015 by James White
Updated 9/1/2016 by James White
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Over the next 10 years nearly every outdoor light in the Pacific Northwest will be replaced with LED.  We should use this opportunity to make ALL outdoor lighting dark-sky compliant.  Reducing light pollution will not only save energy, it will bring out more stars and prevent unwanted light from shining in our bedroom windows.  Reducing glare will also improve safety and security by enhancing our ability to see what is being illuminated.

International Dark-Sky Association Information



Here is a link to a Google Map that shows outdoor lights in your area as seen from space.


If you don't know the BUG rating of your outdoor LED lights you are installing then you are doing it WRONG!  BUG rating stands for Backlight, Uplight and Glare.  Good outdoor light will have very low backlight (light should shine only where you want it), have zero up-light, and very low glare.  Each letter in the BUG rating has number that ranges from zero (good) to five (very bad).

B Backlight, 2 or less

U Uplight, Zero

G Glare, 2 or Less


A technical description of how the BUG numbers are calculated can be found at:



Let's not waste this opportunity to save energy, improve safety and security, restore the night sky, and minimize light trespass.  We should all do what we can to make the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest even better by insisting that ALL LED outdoor lighting be done right.  Doing it right will save money, save energy and provide a better end-product.

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Comments (2)
Jonathan Lewis on 05/26/16 on 10:05 AM (Pacific Time)
Great article! 
Would you be interested in helping with a dark sky LED lighting symposium in The Gorge in August? We're looking for sponsors and speakers now. If you know anyone who could add to this conversation please share. You can learn more about it here: http://mcedd.org/services/GorgeNightSky.htm
James White on 09/01/16 on 10:17 AM (Pacific Time)

You should see what you are missing. When was the last time you saw the Milky Way?


This video shows you what two thirds of the people in the world rarely if ever get to see.  We could change this, while also saving money and energy.Night Sky in the City

Night Sky Without Lights