Lighting Research Center Lighting Research Center
    Volume 7 Issue 2
March 2003 (revised February 2007)    
candela - The Systeme International d'Unities (SI) of luminous intensity. One candela is one lumen per steradian. Formerly, candle. lumen (lm) - A unit measurement of the rate at which a lamp produces light. A lamp's light output rating expresses the total amount of light emitted in all directions per unit time. Ratings of initial light output provided by manufacturers express the total light output after 100 hours of operation. zenith - In the lighting discipline, zenith is the angle pointing directly upward from the luminaire, or 180. Zenith is opposite nadir. In astronomical usage, zenith is the highest point in the sky, directly above the observation point. disability glare - A type of glare that causes a loss of visibility from stray light being scattered within the eye. discomfort glare - The sensation of annoyance or even pain induced by overly bright sources. illuminance - The amount of light (luminous flux) incident on a surface area. Illuminance is measured in footcandles (lumens/square foot) or lux (lumens/square meter). One footcandle equals 10.76 lux, although for convenience 10 lux commonly is used as the equivalent. glare - The sensation produced by luminances within the visual field that are sufficiently greater than the luminance to which the eyes are adapted, which causes annoyance, discomfort, or loss in visual performance and visibility. luminous flux - Luminous radiant power, measured in lumens. The overall light output of a lamp or luminaire. light trespass - A undesirable condition in which exterior light is cast where it is not wanted. luminous intensity - The luminous flux on a small surface centered on and normal to the direction divided by the solid angle (in steradians) that the surface subtends at the source. Luminous intensity can be expressed in candelas or in lumens per steradian. lux (lx) - A measure of illuminance in lumens per square meter. One lux equals 0.093 footcandle. nadir - In the lighting discipline, nadir is the angle pointing directly downward from the luminaire, or 0. Nadir is opposite the zenith. noncutoff luminaire - IESNA classification that describes a luminaire light distribution in which there is no candela limitation in the zone above maximum candela. (See also cutoff classification and cutoff angle.) semicutoff luminaire - IESNA classification that describes a luminaire light distribution in which the candela per 1000 lamp lumens does not numerically exceed 50 (5%) at or above an angle of 90 above nadir, and 200 (20%) at or above a vertical angle of 80 above nadir. This applies to all lateral angles around the luminaire. sky glow - Brightening of the sky caused by outdoor lighting and natural atmospheric and celestial factors. spill light - Light that falls outside of the area intended to be lighted. steradian (sr) - A unit of measure equal to the solid angle subtended at the center of a sphere by an area on the surface of the sphere equal to the square of the sphere radius. uplight - Light directed upward at greater than 90 above nadir. The source of uplight can be from a combination of direct uplight and reflected light. cutoff angle - The angle of light distribution from a luminaire, measured upward from nadir, between the vertical axis and the first line at which the bare source (lamp) is not visible. direct uplight - Light emitted upward by a luminaire. cutoff classification - The classification system of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) that describes the light distribution of anoutdoor luminiare. Cutoff classifications define the luminous intensity limits in two illumination zones that occur within the range of 80° to 180° above nadir. North America (IESNA) that describes the light distribution of an outdoor luminaire. Cutoff classifications define the luminous intensity limits in two illumination zones that occur within the range of 80 to 180 above nadir. footcandle (fc) - A measure of illuminance in lumens per square foot. One footcandle equals 10.76 lux, although for convenience 10 lux commonly is used as the equivalent. fully shielded luminaire - A luminaire that emits no direct uplight, but which has no limitation on the intensity in the region between 80 and 90. cutoff luminaire - IESNA classification that describes a luminaire having a light distribution in which the candela per 1000 lamp lumens does not numerically exceed 25 (2.5%) at or above an angle of 90 above nadir, and 100 (10%) at or above a vertical angle of 80 above nadir. This applies to all lateral angles around the luminaire. full cutoff luminaire - IESNA classification that describes a luminaire having a light distribution in which zero candela intensity occurs at or above an angle of 90 above nadir. Additionally, the candela per 1000 lamp lumens does not numerically exceed 100 (10%) at or above a vertical angle of 80 above nadir. This applies to all lateral angles around the luminaire. fixture - A complete lighting unit consisting of lamp or lamps and the parts designed to distribute the light, position and protect the lamp(s), and connect the lamp(s) to the power supply. (Also referred to as luminaire.)
What is sky glow?

Sky glow occurs from both natural and human-made sources. The natural component of sky glow has five sources: sunlight reflected off the moon and earth, faint air glow in the upper atmosphere (a permanent, low-grade aurora), sunlight reflected off interplanetary dust (zodiacal light), starlight scattered in the atmosphere, and background light from faint, unresolved stars and nebulae (celestial objects or diffuse masses of interstellar dust and gas that appear as hazy smudges of light). Natural sky glow is well quantified. In this publication, further discussion of sky glow considers only human-made sources.

Electric lighting also increases night sky brightness and is the human-made source of sky glow. Light that is either emitted directly upward by luminaires or reflected from the ground is scattered by dust and gas molecules in the atmosphere, producing a luminous background. It has the effect of reducing one’s ability to view the stars, as seen in Figure 3. Sky glow is highly variable depending on immediate weather conditions, quantity of dust and gas in the atmosphere, amount of light directed skyward, and the direction from which it is viewed. In poor weather conditions, more particles are present in the atmosphere to scatter the upward-bound light, so sky glow becomes a very visible effect of wasted light and wasted energy.

Figure 3. Example of sky glow over a city
Source: Reprinted with permission from the Institution of Lighting Engineers and the Society of Light and Lighting

Sky glow is of most concern to astronomers because it reduces their ability to view celestial objects. Sky glow increases the brightness of the dark areas of the sky, which reduces the contrast of stars or other celestial objects against the dark sky background. Astronomers typically like very dry clear dark nights for observing. A typical suburban sky is 5 to 10 times brighter at the zenith than the natural sky (the zenith is the angle that points directly upward, or 180°, from the observation point). In city centers, the zenith may be 25 or 50 times brighter than the natural background.

Sky brightness is increasing, as recorded by professional and amateur astronomers. For example, at the Mars Hill Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, sky brightness is reported to have increased by 0.5 magnitude from 1976 to 1988 (Lockwood et al. 1990). An increase in brightness at this level means that certain stars may blend into the background, making them indistinguishable. Upgren (1991) performed naked eye observations of bright stars over the interval from 1977–1991. Upgren’s data show an increase in light pollution and possibly air pollution in the area around Middletown, Connecticut.


Previous
Previous
2003 - 2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. All rights reserved. Next Next


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
LRC Intranet Web mail Lighting Research Center