Illusions


After shovelling out the driveway, having something to eat, playing with the pets, and enjoying a little rest I stepped outside once again and thought I may have just lost touch with the world. There, to the south of my house, were the Northern Lights. They shouldn’t be there but as I watched it was clearly spires of colored lights glowing in the night sky and I had to drive out of town to see this clearer.

After only going a couple blocks it was revealed that the auroras were really an optical illusion caused by tonight’s specific atmospheric conditions. The cold and the falling snow had taken the street lights, car lights, and other outdoor illuminations and cast their beams straight up into the clouds. The effect was beautiful but it can only be seen when you are out away from the lights, closer to the country areas as in the city the effect is gone.

Although this can be seen as a great visual picture it really shows the wasteful way in which we use light to show our way in the darkness. The reason the clouds glow at night or why we can see the Earth glow in night pictures from space is because much of our lighting systems cast their beams not only down onto their subjects but also up into the sky. By properly sheilding the lights they could provide more downward illumination and not confuse so much of the overhead flying creatures. It’s just a though.

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