Monday, April 14

Bright nights

Gaze in wonder at my new streetlight. Bright, isn't it? I can read by it. It's all mine. Normally, I wouldn't take ownership in such a utilitarian, publicly held item, but this light pole is mine. The geniuses at Aquila put it in my front yard. They could have moved it fifty feet west, and in doing so, planted it on the property line, out of the way and still capable of blinding  luminescence.

No, that would have been logical. Instead, they sunk this aluminum totem right at the edge of my driveway and right in front of our living room window. This is the same yard that I sunk eight zillion dollars into two years back -  550 rolls of sod and an ocean of water. The result is an atypically Lapinesque sense of pride in this pie-shaped suburban yard. (You will note that the driveway still looks like homemade shit pie. Fucking concrete work is seriously expensive.)

I called a disinterested middle manager at Aquila who, when asked why they had decided to put their big torch in my front yard when all around me had been installed at the edges of properties, informed me that streetlights had to be a certain distance apart. 

What I heard was: "Fuck off, bunny-boy. The light's in, deal with it. Have a nice day!" 

You know, I'm a city kid. My hopes weren't sky-high before I called Mr. Happy. I didn't expect much beyond what I got from this divot, but he might have tried a little harder to make me believe he wasn't an asshat, even though the crews installed this light, complete with underground power feed, before the Dig-Rite guys came out to flag our yard. I kinda wish they had slashed a gas line and sent their 1000 watt Vostok into low-earth orbit. At least we would have had a bit of excitement here at the warren.

So, my brand new light is in and blazing away. I mean blazing. I'm resigned to living with this great beacon in my yard. Maybe it's not so bad. Now I don't have to think about planning to mow during daylight hours. I can yank the the old Toro's rope and mow at midnight if it suits me. I might need a bit of sunscreen at that.

On the other hand, any thoughts I might have had for semi-serious backyard astronomy just went down in flames. We used to be able to drag out the orange-barrel behemoth under reasonably darkish suburban skies, spend some time getting dark acclimated, and while away a number of hours in the quiet pursuit of faint, fuzzy blobs in the depths of space. Some of the neighborhood kids once stood on a milk crate in our back yard to get their first looks at the planets.
Sure, the amount of sky-glow from Kansas City westward and the eternal lumen-circus that is 40 and Noland Road to the north were always impediments to serious sky-gazing, but it also wasn't a two hour trip out of town to get to dark skies.

Aquila has fixed that. The Lapin Warren sits on a circle street, and the Aquila "upgrade" has put the light from three, count them, three blazing street lights into my back yard. This may improve some after the trees leaf out, but I'm not betting on it. There will be no more telescope evenings at the ranch. (The irony is that Aquila is also the name of an asterism near Sagittarius. It was always the "Eagle" before, but now it's the "Buzzard" as far as I'm concerned.)

It's so bright in my yard now, that even casual naked-eye observing or binocular scanning will be impractical. Multiply that by the next-door neighbor's herd of yapping dogs and my once-quiet, once-dark cool oasis might as well be sited next to I-fucking-70.
So that's that. If you want a really good deal on an '80s vintage Celestron C8, no computer controls, no "GoTo" stuff, just an extremely nice SCT with an AC-powered clock drive and a bunch of accessories, let me know. If I don't get any good offers, I may just set it up in Aquila's lobby some afternoon. If they give me any shit about it, I'll just tell them that it won't do me any fucking good any more, they might as well enjoy it. Idiots.

Thus spake the rabbit.


Spyder said...

No running around naked, making like rabbits in your yard!

We have 4 acres in Raytown. And not one street light. We do have some motion sensor lights

Nightmare said...

buy a wrist rocket and shoot out the bulb. It is easy and they will take months to fix it especially if you don't call them.

We used to do it as kids...tons of fun!

Le Grand Lapin said...

Thought about that. An astronomer buddy has a 100mW green laser pointer that can disable a street light's daylight sensor from over two blocks away. Zzzaap! You can also use it to light fireworks and the Weber kettle.

meesha.v said...

you yard may be visible from space now, so the tables have turned