Operators take action to darken skies around McDonald Observatory

Operators take action to darken skies around McDonald Observatory

  • April 17, 2017
  • News

Dark skies are surrounding the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory at Fort Davis. And that’s a good thing. The Permian Basin Petroleum Association, in collaboration with the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, recently issued its recommended lighting practices for oil and gas operations in the seven counties that surround the observatory. “We’re very excited,” Ben Shepperd, president of the PBPA, said in a phone interview as he was returning to Austin after hosting the association’s annual golf tournament. “We’ve been…

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The Stars at Night

The Stars at Night

  • March 31, 2017
  • News

A satellite map of light pollution in the United States shows the country split down the middle, with nearly everything to the east full of light and broad swaths of the west still dark. The Interstate 35 corridor forms the boundary between the two; immediately west is the Hill Country. “We call it ‘the edge of night,’ because you have dark skies that are close to very populated cities,” says IDA board member Ken Kattner, a Houston lawyer and amateur…

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At Davis Mountains Preserve, explore a ‘sky island’

At Davis Mountains Preserve, explore a ‘sky island’

  “You don’t need an understanding of biodiversity or ecosystems to be struck by how unique the Davis Mountains are when you drive into them,” says Laura Huffman, State Director of the Nature Conservancy in Texas. A few years after the purchase of that first chunk of preserve land, the Nature Conservancy established the nearly 5,000-acre Madera Canyon Preserve a few miles away. Then, in 2004, it bought the 10,000-acre strip of land that separated the parcels, creating a contiguous…

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South Llano River State Park earns dark sky status

South Llano River State Park earns dark sky status

  • February 23, 2017
  • News

Looking for darkness, shooting stars and comets? Head to South Llano River State Park, which just became the third state park in Texas – along with Copper Breaks State Park and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – with International Dark-Sky Park status. South Llano River State Park earns a “3” on the Bortle Scale, which ranks skies from 1 to 9, with one for the darkest skies and nine for the least dark, according to a press release from the…

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Astronomers Encourage Cities to Shield Outdoor Lighting

Astronomers Encourage Cities to Shield Outdoor Lighting

  • January 30, 2017
  • News

Our home galaxy, the Milky Way — that iconic stream of stars coursing across the night sky — cannot be seen by one-third of humanity and 80 percent of Americans. As the artificial glow from towns and cities increases every year, and starry nights become unfamiliar to many, astronomers and dark-sky advocates are pushing to reduce light pollution — starting with changes to outdoor lighting. The American Astronomical Society passed a resolution at their annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas this…

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The stars at night… Commissioners approve night skies resolution

The stars at night… Commissioners approve night skies resolution

  • January 12, 2017
  • News

Jennifer Reiley | The Kerrville Daily Times | Kerr County commissioners are in support of protecting the night skies of the Hill Country from light pollution. Local Realtor Jim Wills and his wife, Kadi, came back to commissioners court Monday with a revised resolution regarding an initiative to help protect the night skies in Kerr County. Commissioners approved the resolution, which is a non-binding show of support. Commissioner Tom Moser asked about the wording of part to the resolution, which…

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Stargazing under Texas’ Dark Skies

Stargazing under Texas’ Dark Skies

  • January 4, 2017
  • News

In fall 2015, Hill Country Alliance asked the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture to conduct a study and offer recommendations to keep the stars in the Lone Star sky truly big and bright. At the time, the population of the Hill Country was 3.4 million, which represented a 25 percent increase from 2000-10. By 2050, the population is estimated to double and then some. Those relocating to the 17-county Hill Country region look forward to such countrified…

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Oil and gas drilling brightening the dark skies near McDonald Observatory

Oil and gas drilling brightening the dark skies near McDonald Observatory

  • November 7, 2016
  • News

After a career as a stevedore in Florida, amateur astronomer James Lowrey retired 11 years ago to the Big Bend, drawn by the otherworldly viewing possibilities of its inky night skies. But Lowrey and other astronomers in the region fear that lights from flares and oil rigs in the ever-expanding Permian Basin oil boom to the north may soon endanger their precious dark skies. In late October, Lowrey filed six complaints in Reeves County, claiming Apache Corp. is violating the…

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Colorado towns work to preserve a diminishing resources: darkness

Colorado towns work to preserve a diminishing resources: darkness

  • August 22, 2016
  • News

Four out of five Americans live in places where they can no longer see the Milky Way. But here, the tiny neighboring ranching and railroad towns of Westcliffe (population 568) and Silver Cliff (population 587) have decided to tap into the dwindling natural resource of darkness. The old silver mines that once made Silver Cliff Colorado’s third-largest town are long closed, and many ranchers are retiring. But there is still the night. So for more than a decade, the two…

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Commentary: Texas Hill Country is on the Edge of Night

Commentary: Texas Hill Country is on the Edge of Night

  • July 31, 2016
  • News

“Without leadership from our rapidly urbanizing cities, we stand to lose all of the groundwork we’ve laid to protect night skies in the Hill Country,” said Katherine Romans, Hill Country Alliance executive director. “San Antonio was on the right track in including the consideration of night skies in their plan. It is a shame to see those portions gutted for the sake of unfettered development.” Commentary: Texas Hill Country is on the Edge of Night Rivard Report Vicki Wolf and…

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