2013 Night Sky News

December 12, 2013

Sports field lighting doesn’t have to light the night sky

“The lighting systems are visible for miles around and produce a substantial amount of sky glow and light pollution… It is essentially impossible to mitigate the impact these types of facilities have on the surrounding areas.” This is a significant issue in the Hill Country but it is one that is fairly easy to correct with some cooperation and good neighbor lighting. Learn about Recommended Practice (RP) from the International Dark Sky Association.

December 5, 2013

Where did all the stars go?

Big Bend National Park is one of the darkest place in the U.S. but the Hill Country is quickly losing the night, “…much outdoor lighting used at night is wildly inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded, and, in many cases, completely unnecessary.” Read this story published in the December issue of Men’s Journal featuring HCA Night Sky Team member and frequent guest speaker Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory.

November 25, 2013

HCA Presents: Night Sky events in Bee Cave and Mason, Dec 11 & 12

As we continue our outreach program to encourage night sky friendly lighting in the Hill Country, we are pulling Bill Wren away from his duties at the McDonald Observatory once again. Join us for a screening of the film The City Dark followed by a presentation by Bill Wren, Dec. 11 in Bee Cave and Dec. 12 in Mason. Learn more about protecting the night sky here.

November 19, 2013

A Brighter, Dimmer Future: Germany’s Saviors of the Night

The eastern German area of Westhavelland is blessed with magical night skies, darker than almost anyplace else in the country. A “dark-sky park” for amateur astronomers and nature lovers is in the works for the region, and idealists are championing efforts to reduce light pollution elsewhere. Read More

November 12, 2013

18-acre ballpark in Hill Country has neighbors upset

Henly is not so much a town as a collection of farmers and ranchers along U.S. 290 between Dripping Springs and Johnson City. Community life revolves around volunteer fire department barbecues and services at the Henly Baptist Church. The unincorporated town, which has more livestock than people, doesn’t have so much as a traffic light or a gas station. More from Statesman.com.

November 4, 2013

Could Sparkling Glow-in-the-Dark Pavement Replace Street Lights?

Keeping parks well lit at night can be a costly means to ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety. But a British-based company has come up with a way to turn park paths into glow-in-the-dark thoroughfares that double as energy-efficient works of art. More from Take Part.

October 28 2013

The Fight to Save Natural Darkness

“Ever since there have been humans, they’ve had the experience of walking out at night and going face to face with the universe. That has inspired art, religion and philosophy. That experience is being lost. Most Americans have never seen the Milky Way. That kind of cost is difficult to gauge,” said writer Paul Bogard. More from 8 News Now LV.

Save the Night Program at Texas State University

Is it dark outside? Is it really dark? Darkness is a good thing for the environment as well as your emotional and physical well-being. The reasons why disappearing “dark skies” can adversely affect plant and animal life (including humans) will be explained November 7 when nationally recognized conservationist and author Paul Bogard joins Cindy Luongo Cassidy to discuss the impact of artificial light on the environment and its inhabitants. Details

October 20, 2013

Seeing the Milky Way in San Antonio — The Easiest Environmental Problem to Fix

“Whether you’re an astronomer or a casual observer of beauty, if you vacation in the Hill Country, you expect a beautiful landscape during the day and at night. Losing the night sky – like losing the peaceful silence of some Hill Country inns and campsites – would have an impact.” HCA intern Julie Cornelius quoted in the Rivard Report. Read the full story.

October 1, 2013

HCA partners with AIA COTE for a Night Sky program in San Antonio!

The San Antonio Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) is partnering with HCA to host a screening of “The City Dark” and a presentation by Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory about night sky lighting. Bill has been traveling the Hill Country teaching simple techniques for lighting to protect our starry skies above. This “COTE Cinema event will be held October 17th. Details

September 13, 2013

The Fight to Save Natural Darkness

“Darkness is very important for us in many ways. It is important to our body, our physical health, our mental, psychological, even spiritual health. It’s important for the environment in which we live.” Read full story and watch video here.

August 16, 2013

Area governments discuss dark skies and lighting ordinances

Two western Travis County cities, Bee Cave and West Lake Hills, are coming to terms with their recent growth, weighing their need for creature comforts—well-lit shopping centers and athletic fields—with maintaining a country feel and the visibility of a night sky filled with stars. More from Community Impact

July 9, 2013

Learn how to assess lighting in your community

A new program is in place to train volunteers from all over the state to do lighting assessments and help implement best practices for night lighting. While this program was created for TPWD, the training is available to any community group who would like to reduce sky glow and see the stars at night. Learn More

June 24, 2013

Hays County Neighbors are outraged over sports complex lighting

“Remember that Hays County has very limited authorities on private property in unincorporated areas,” County Commissioner Ray Whisenant said. “Henly’s night sky is usually a pitch black canvas, with only the moon and stars exposed. Neighbors like Cindy Cassidy say the sports complex has taken that from them.” Read the full story from YNN. More about protecting the Hill Country Night Sky here.

June 13, 2013

Hays County Town Hall Meeting about Sports Complex Lighting June 20th

Hill Country people appreciate the Night Sky and one growing concern is the proliferation extremely lit sports fields. A town hall meeting focused on the new Central Texas Field of Dreams, will take place at the fire station at 7520 Creek Road in Dripping Springs, Thursday June 20th from 6 – 8. Learn about lighting sports parks from IDA here. Learn about HCA’s Night Sky Program here.

June 3, 2013

“Better Lights” in Medina and Lost Maples State Park

HCA Night Sky ambassador, Bill Wren from the McDonald Observatory, will be traveling to Lost Maples State Park this Saturday, June 8th to teach about proper lighting for the night sky. The event will be followed by guided star gazing with the San Antonio Astronomy Club. Sunday the 9th, Bill will present to the community of Medina at the Public Library at 7:30 pm. Join us and help spread the word as we work towards converting the Texas Hill Country to a night sky friendly region.

April 5, 2013

Better Lights for Starry Nights!

Our Night sky educational tour last week was very successful. Monday in Kerrville we co-hosted a gathering with community leaders and friends from the Riverside Nature Center at Schreiner University. A new observatory is in the works on the Schreiner campus giving Kerrville a wonderful new incentive to protect the night sky. Monday evening we joined the Texas Master Naturalists, Hill Country chapter for their monthly meeting with close to 100 participants. Tuesday, we partnered with the Hill Country Land Trust for a program in Fredericksburg where the city council recently passed a supportive resolution. Communities throughout the Hill Country are learning about effective night sky lighting as Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory travels with HCA to share this story. Events were hosted at the Llano Public Library Wednesday and Thursday evening at the LBJ Historical Park in Johnson City. Learn More

April 28, 2013

Program Developed to Assess Outdoor Lighting in Texas State Parks

On April 22, nine Hill Country residents and night sky advocates gathered in the Blanco Emergency Medical Service conference facility to help refine a training program aimed at preparing volunteers to make outdoor lighting assessments at Texas State Parks. Read More

April 2, 2013

Pull off the interstate in Junction for kayaking, hiking, birding and barbecue

Junction’s famous for its spring-fed rivers, state park, roosting turkeys, paddling routes, bird watching and pecans. While white-tailed deer hunting still ranks as one of the most popular draws for visitors, things are changing. Eco tourism is on the rise. “Probably in 30 years we’ll have more people coming for butterflies, birding and night skies than we do for deer hunting.” Read the full story from Statesman.com

March 20, 2013

“Kimble County – Where Our Stars Are Stars”

The Kimble County Chamber of Commerce & Junction Tourism has announced their new “Kimble County – Where Our Stars Are Stars!” Night Skies Friendly Business Recognition Program. Learn More

March 4, 2013

Blanco Post Office Installs Night Sky-Friendly Lights

Sometimes its what you don’t see that is really impressive. Such was the case recently when the Blanco Post Office installed new LED bulbs in the recently replaced carriage lights on the front of the Post Office building. The bulbs that originally had been installed in the new fixtures shined straight out onto the street and caused an irritating white glare for motorists and pedestrians alike. Additionally, because the lights shined above the horizon, they contributed to Blanco’s sky glow. Read more from Blanco County News.

February 21, 2013

Dome on the Range

Kenrick and Laurie Kattner have shared a love of stargazing and a dream of building their own observatory. They spent months driving around at night looking a spot away from the nighttime glow of Hill Country cities and towns. In 2007 they found the perfect piece of property in Llano County. “The Big Bend area near McDonald Observatory is one of the darkest areas in the nation, and it’s not that different out at our place,” Ken says of their Hill Country land. Read their story from Landscapes Magazine.

February 15, 2013

Enjoy beautiful images of the Hill Country Night Landscape

HCA Photo Contest winner Chase A. Fountain is featured in a wonderful TPWD photo story about the Texas night landscape and starry sky above.