The five-year row at Cambridge over plans to floodlight the university athletics track is generating heat as well as light (see page 2). Many astronomers say light pollution will destroy their view of the night sky and have been petitioning the Duke of Edinburgh, Cambridge's chancellor, to intervene.
They have collected more than 60 signatures, overcoming "what is tantamount to voter intimidation", according to chief opponent Roger Griffin. Dr Griffin, a reader at the Institute of Astronomy, e-mailed fellow star-gazers to rally support . Two days later, the same staff received a message from their boss, Richard Ellis: "The institute has concluded that to object formally against this development would be inconsistent with an earlier agreement and indefensible within the university ... Of course, as individuals, you are free to sign any petition but I hope this clarifies the departmental position."