New Mexico’s Lighting Fine

From the article at KOB TV in Albuquerque:

Gov. Bill Richardson signed legislation giving the Night Sky Protection Act some new teeth–in the form of fines for people who violate it.

The idea behind the protection act is to stop light pollution. For almost a decade, New Mexico has had a law on the books requiring most outdoor lighting to be aimed downward and have a shield to protect it from shining upward.

The regulations are a no-brainer for scientists, especially astronomers studying the night sky.

Laurel Ladwig of the Museum of Natural History says the laws on the books were more like suggestions before. But now, New Mexico is moving in the direction of other states that limit light pollution, the museum’s Tyson Wood said.

” Places like Tucson have regulations already so hopefully we’re moving towards that goal where we can really take down a lot of that light pollution and see a lot more of the night sky,” he said.

And there is a lot to see, scientists say.

In Albuquerque, you can view a couple hundred stars on a clear night. Outside the city, it’s thousands.

Unshielded searchlights and spotlights and floodlights now need to be shut off after 11 p.m., with exceptions for highway billboards, runway lights and sporting events.

Homeowners won’t have to worry about most unshielded lights under 150 watts.