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Re-lit hotel sign causes issues for researchers

By Eric Turcio, Reporter, eturcio@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 02:05:45 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 16 2013 06:53:20 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The Baxter Hotel Owner re-lit the sign after years of it being dark. Now researchers at Montana State said the light's causing issues with environmental research.

Joseph Shaw is a professor of electrical engineering and physics at MSU. Shaw said the sign is interfering with his work collecting data on weather and particles.

"Whether we're looking specifically in that direction or just looking into the sky in general, that scattered light becomes a blanket of light obscured trying to measure," Shaw said.

The majority owner of the Baxter Hotel, David Loseff, said he is just trying to let people know they are open for business. "This issue really speaks to the fact that there is competing needs," said Loseff.

"That's a major source of light pollution," said Shaw

NBC Montana wanted to know how this sign affected eye vision at night. We tracked down Optometry Doctor Jennipher Harper. Harper said the big, bright lights saturate light-absorbing cells in our eyes.

Harper described what happens when we look at  a bright light in the dark. "That much bright light getting in there is probably saturating a lot of pigment in those cones. It's going to take a little longer for them to cycle through the path than it needs to."

The Baxter Hotel owner and MSU researchers plan to meet next week discussing ways to minimize the amount of the time the sign will stay lit.