This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 09, 2008

LEDs Jazz Up the Redesigned Times Square New Year's Eve Ball

Photo of a multicolored ball, made up of hundreds of glowing triangles, hanging in a building. The tops of the heads of many people are visible just below the ball

Before its debut on Times Square, the new LED-powered New Year's Eve Ball was displayed in Macy's department store. Enlarge this image.
Credit: Countdown Entertainment and Times Square Alliance

The ball that dropped in New York City's Time Square to mark the start of this New Year was lit entirely by energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Redesigned for its centennial, the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball now features 9,576 high-power Luxeon LEDs from Philips Lighting and can generate more than 16 million colors, allowing the ball to create billions of color combinations. The ball is six feet in diameter and weighs 1,200 pounds, and is now more than twice as bright as the old ball. It features 672 double-cut crystal triangles made by Waterford Crystal. Philips Lighting and Waterford Crystal were commissioned to create the new ball, and Philips hired Lighting Science Group Corporation to integrate the LED technologies with the crystal facets. Lighting Science worked closely with Focus Lighting, the ball's lighting designer, and Hudson Scenic, the ball's structural framework designer and manufacturer, to ensure that the overall integration went seamlessly. According to Philips, the new ball uses as much energy as 10 toasters. See the press releases from Philips and Lighting Science.

The idea of dropping a ball to mark time was started at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, in 1833. The ball would drop at 1 p.m. every day, making it easy for the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers to Greenwich Mean Time. Times Square adopted the concept of the New Year's Eve Ball in 1907, employing what was then cutting-edge lighting technology: 100 25-watt incandescent light bulbs. The newest ball honors that cutting-edge tradition by incorporating LEDs, one of the newest lighting technologies. For a history of the ball, as well as photos and videos of the new ball in action, see the Times Square Alliance Web site.