Night time lighting is important for safety and for pedestrian and vehicular traffic, however, there is an increasing awareness for the consequences of having too much light. This light pollution can negatively impact astronomers and wildlife, and there is some evidence it can even impact humans by disrupting sleeping cycles.
To alleviate this pollution some municipalities are implementing dark-sky lighting systems that are designed to direct light where it is needed—on the ground—and prevent it from being cast into the night sky.
One such dark sky effort is underway at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, which straddles the border of the Canadian provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan. This park is widely enjoyed by night time sky watchers and has already been deemed a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The new street lights being installed are intended to further improve the park’s dark sky characteristics.
These new lights include physical improvements in the form of a full cutoff flat lens. The full cutoff lens prevents light from projecting above the horizontal and additionally limits glare in the near horizontal angles.
The new lights also include smart features. One smart feature is the ability to dim light output depending on the time of night to conserve energy while still providing necessary light for traffic requirements. Another smart feature is a wireless monitoring system that can transmit a light’s power consumption and hours of operation as well as any need for maintenance such as a failed bulb. The ability to monitor lighting fixtures in this way will allow even more effective lighting solutions to be implemented in the future.
The lighting upgrades are being provided by Saskatchewan’s largest electricity supplier SaskPower. The upgrades are part of a two year demonstration project which is intended to lead to similar lighting upgrades in other locations in the province.