If you’ve ever been on a site seeing flight over the outer Cape, you know how interesting it can be to see all your usual haunts from the perspective of the sky. How dwarfed and flattened out the scale of everything is when viewed from your new vantage point. For me it’s as if I were looking down at some game board surface where the few tall objects like the Pilgrim Monument are the player pieces periodically piercing the two dimensional plane. It’s how the kettle ponds look more like collections of puddles after a good strong rainstorm, or how a particular river connects to a marsh or to the ocean, and how narrow the cape really gets from bay to ocean – how close and related and seemingly fragile everything is.
In a small plane at night on the outer cape you get a whole different perspective – human activity gets represented in lights – the lights of a town busy in summer contrast with vast patches of darkened national seashore dotted with the pockets of cottage settlements and the headlights of cars along a bisecting road. Lights like a highlighter outlining human activity.
Recently, we had a small plane photographer retrieve just that perspective on the newly installed LED streetlights in Provincetown, so we could see how the change from the traditional yellow high pressure sodium lamps to the new whiter LEDs shown in the night sky of that town. And what you see is definitely a marked difference. Aside from the obvious alteration in color, there is much less up-lighting or glow into the night sky from the new lights. There’s no question that for many folks, the difference in LED light takes some getting used to after decades of HPS as the standard (just as I’m told those high pressure sodiums took quite a bit of getting used to decades earlier when they replaced the previous whiter standard; what’s that expression – mess with a person’s trash, parking, or street lighting and you will have real fight on your hands….). But the new lamps are definitely dark sky compliant both in terms of technical specifications and in reality as shown in these shots from the air. Take a look; you’ll see for a point of comparison the remaining pockets of yellow high pressure sodium streetlights on the Pier and in the other big municipal parking lot, both of which are slated for change out soon as well.
– Meredith Miller, C&I Program Manager
Photo credit: Kelsey-Kennard Photographers