AAAP Light Pollution Pages

Light Pollution News

Bruce Smith Introduces House Bill 300

Lots of bustle around House Bill 300. Get involved. Write to your representitive.

Here is the official state info on the bill.

Frank Dermody is the Representative who represents the district which includes Wagman Observatory:
The Honorable Frank Dermody
801 Freeport Road
Cheswick, PA 15024

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has published an article about House Bill 300 as well.

The Time-Leader has posted an article titled "Lawmakers prepare action as groups protest loss of age-old glory of sky" , subtitled "Going boldly on a star trek". The article was published in the Sunday, April 15 edition of the Wilkes-Barre based newspaper. You can see it online here. The article has a few inaccuracies, but will help to get the word out about the light pollution bill that is gaining statewide support.

March 2001

From the Valley News Dispatch, march 4, 2001

Astronomers support bill to reduce light pollution

By Michelle L. Start
Staff writer

FRAZER: Light pollution was a topic at the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh's ninth annual Winter Festival Saturday at the Nicholas E. Wagman Obserservatory.

Astronomers of all ages arrived shortly after 4 p.m. to view the sun, but cloudy skies made viewing difficult at times.

"The haze is messing things up," said Terry Trees from New Kensington.

Despite Saturday's cloud cover, Trees and other astronomers said the hill top observatory was one of the best in the area, especially for viewing stars.

"In order to observe the stars, you need dark skies and hill top sites," said Flac Stifel, the association's associate director.

Dark skies, or rather the lack thereof, was a major topic of discussion at the festival.

The astronomers said they were supporting legislation that state Rep. Bruce Smith is expected to introduce next month that would regulate nighttime lighting in Pennsylvania.

"Light pollution is the great enemy of astronomy," said Stifel. "This is a win-win bill. It will save energy. Shielded light is better for security and better for astronomers. It's much better for everyone."

Stifel was referring to high-intensity lights pointing skyward instead of being shielded to focus on a specific area.

"Light pollution is a tremendous problem," said Trees. "Imagine watching a program on your TV set and minimizing the contrast so that everything looks washed out. That's how light pollution affects astronomy."

Although light pollution has affected astronomers across the country, local stargazers said they still are able to view the skies above the Wagman observatory on a clear night.

Trees said astronomers might catch a clear glimpse of Jupiter and its stormy surface, Saturn's rings and moons, Mercury and Venus during this time of the year.

He also said the great nebula of Orion is visible now.

"It's really like a spectacular piece of artwork," Trees said.

December 2000

From the listserver Sent by: Terry.Trees@MSANET.COM


I finally got some time to write a letter supporting PA House Bill #2825. It follows here. If you haven't yet written yours, please feel free to use anything in my letter that you need except the part about light pollution possibly violating the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. One whack-o in an organization is probably enough.


December 2000

From the listserver Sent by:

This is a posting from sci.astro.amateur regarding possible dark-sky legislation in PA.

John Diller

Subject: Dark Skies for Pennsylvania

Rep. Bruce Smith of York County, PA, intends to reintroduce "Light Pollution Bill #2825" early in 2001. He modeled the bill after New York State law. He learned of the need for light pollution legislation after meeting with members of the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg, which is located in his legislative district. York Club Observatory at John Rudy Park is also in his district. To see the bill, go to After first introducing the bill in Oct. 2000 as a "trial balloon", he has been contacted by both supporters and opponents, but most troubling is that his fellow constituents have written to him indicating that he should pursue more meaningful laws and belittled his efforts on behalf of light pollution legislation! The billboard industry is also giving him a hard time as well. He is asking for help & suggestions, so _now_ is the time for all Pennsylvania amateur astronomers to speak up and support this legislation! To contact your representative and also Rep. Bruce Smith, go to For more info on light pollution, go to the IDA web site at

If this passes, it would make our backyards a whole new place!


Wendy Tordoff

March 14, 2000

From the listserver

President Terry Trees tells me the interchange on Route 28 for the Frazer Heights Galleria mall has been approved; there is a story in today's Valley News Dispatch.

This once again is a call for action by our members. If this interchange is going to be put in, it will service the mall and Rock Ferrone's airport. We need to be dilligent in our quest for light-pollution ordinances.

Additionally, I see membership in the International Dark-Sky Association has reached 3,900. Let's see if we can add to that. If you're not a member of the IDA and you'd like to be, let me know.

If we do not act, our children in years to come, not being able to see the stars, may ask us: Why not?

If you are a professional astronomer or in a related field, I urge you to speak out. You carry more weight than "amateurs." More people likely will listen to you. Please do not be silent.

Thanks for your time.

Clear and dark skies,


February 2000

Bob Mickey has had to to resign from the chairship of the AAAP Light Pollution Committee. The club officers and members want to wish him many thanks for his tireless efforts and dedication to preserving our precious night sky. Assistant chairs Pete Zapadka and Bill Yorkshire will be working hard to fill Bob's shoes. Please give them all of your support.

December 2, 1999

A message from AAAP presidente' Terry Trees

I stopped in at the Rockport update session at the Comfort Inn in Harmarville about 5 minutes after 4 PM today. The large ball room was basically empty. There were about a dozen visitors and 6 or 7 hosts and hostesses. As first reported by Les Nessman many years ago," the crowd was curious, but well-behaved".

There was a large TV monitor showing a computer-generated view of the coming facility. Across the room were two sets of 3' x 5' maps and drawings. I had my digital camera with me and snapped a photo of a chart showing the types of planes landing there now and the types to come. Upon seeing the flash, Rock immediately scurried across the room to meet me.

"I just got a camera like that, how do you like it?", he began.

I thought this was pretty clever of him. He was finding out what I was up to, who I was and without appearing to do anything except talk about cameras. He then got his out and we compared features.

During our 5 minute conversation, I told him how thankful the astronomy association was that he had agreed to work with us on the lighting. I also told him how concerned some members were that his new Rockport sign was uplit. Not that it was creating any significant light pollution, but that if it was a precursor of what is coming...

He explained that he had done that intentionally because the original plan was for a very bright backlit sign and then he thought about us and replaced it with the current dim one. I told him if he had it altered to a downlit arrangement, our members would notice and feel more comfortable about the future.

Once again he assured me that we have nothing to worry about. Even the exterior lighting on the buildings will not be bright, because planes have to be able to land safely at night. In fact, the Capital City Airport in Harrisburg has an observatory on its grounds because it is one of the darker sites in that area. (Is this true?)

The runway is being moved to very near the railroad tracks. This makes the flightpath go somewhat west of our site at Wagman.

I took pictures of some of the other charts. They came out well enough for me to recognize what they are, but not well enough to include in the GuideStar, which is what I had hoped.

At any rate, the main topics of discussion I overheard between the Rockers and the public were how annoying the low flying planes are and that Saturdays, with the flight school in operation, are really bad. Rock's agents said that even though the new planes are bigger, they will be quieter. And the new larger airport will be under FAA control while the present one is not.

Some of the present planes flying in and out: Bonanza F33, Cessna 150/F, Cessna 182, Malibu, Piper Cub, Mooney M20.

Some of the expected aircraft: Beechjet, Cessna 310, Cessna Conquest, Challenger, Citationjet, KingAir, Lear 31.

Before I left I filled out a survey sheet and listed our concerns: (1) that exterior lighting be kept to a minimum, (2) that exterior lighting be pointed down and, (3) that the flight path not be near the observatory after dark because of the interference it would create for research projects and time exposure photos.

This is just a report of my experiences. I do not know how many truths or lies it contains. Only time will tell. Even though Rock is a salesman extraordinaire, I am cautiously optimistic. What he said at least appeared to make sense. It may turn out that the light pollution from this project is nothing compared to the Galleria project. However, I am holding my final judgment. We've been invited to tour the airport facility anytime we want.

Perhaps we should get a group of 10 or 12 members and schedule a tour. Then ask to come back every 3 or 4 months to see how it's going. We could spew out all kinds of compliments as to how nice this is and that is, and boy, what a great idea that was, but oops, look at that light over there.

That might make a favorable impression and keep us in the "spotlight" of this issue.

Anyone interested?


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