If you are installing signs that light up, like neon, or that will be lit by surrounding light bulbs, take steps now to work light pollution mitigation into your sign setup. Light pollution has become such a scourge that certification of a region or community as a dark-sky place is now a newsworthy event. It is possible to still have a sign that lights up at night while not contributing to the problem of light pollution, and these three steps will help you reach that balance.
Cover the Sign
No, you don't have to make the sign invisible. But have the sign company manufacture a ledge that sits at the top of the sign above any neon tubes or light bulbs. The ledge should prevent light from being thrown up into the air and contributing to the general glow of the city, which can affect observatories and telescopes. The ledge should stick out just far enough so that, from above, you can't see the lights of the sign.
Shining lights into a mirror doesn't really add light to a room, but there's a psychological effect when you see that extra light anyway. If your sign faces a building with lots of windows, for example, the reflections of the sign and the lights around it can make passersby think that there is a lot of light around them. Try to angle the sign so that it is either not facing anything reflective or is facing as little reflective material as possible. In a city environment, for example, this can be difficult to do, but it's worth a try.
Use Dark-Sky-Approved Lighting
The International Dark-Sky Association maintains a database of lights and fixtures that have a fixture seal of approval. These fixtures and lights are less likely to throw light everywhere. For signs that are lit by separate bulbs, you and the sign company can search for suitable fixtures. (For neon signs, you may have to stick to keeping that covering ledge on the top of the sign).
If you have more questions about making your sign less likely to add to light pollution, talk to the sign manufacturing company (such as Cardinal Sign) you're ordering from and see what measures they have put in place. You don't have to have light spilling everywhere in order to advertise your company, and you may even be able to use your dark-sky-friendly attempts as part of your marketing to attract customers who like environmentally conscious companies.
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