Letter to the editor sent to the Ocala Star Banner

It is time to start thinking about wasted light and the economic impact it has on tax payers. I am an amateur astrophotographer having spent the past 3 years imaging deep space objects such as nebula and distant galaxies from my backyard here in Ocala. Over the course of 3 years I have noticed an increase in Ocala "sky glow" or the amount of light that has scattered above the ground and into space. Much of this comes from needed development and with development comes parking lot lights, street lights and general lights from business that scatter light into space above the city. As with responsible development comes responsible lighting. If we can shift the way we direct lights and direct them down, where light is needed, we can limit the amount of light, and energy, wasted to the sky above. Approximately 30% of energy used in unshielded lights is wasted to the sky. This energy wasted costs the U.S. 2.2 billion dollars annually. Using shielded lights, with a lower wattage bulb, will save money for the city, provide security, limit distracting glare (while driving) and help preserve the night sky. I propose the city of Ocala consider looking into lighting that is cheaper to run, while still providing security, safety and aesthetics. I also ask for homeowners and business owners to consider using timers, dimmers and sensors to darken unoccupied areas and to use light only when it is needed. Steve Coates Ocala, FL

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