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Fredericksburg Could Soon Become 3rd Texas City to Obtain Dark Sky Designation

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Fredericksburg is in the process of working toward its Dark Sky Designation – a huge step forward in the Texas Hill Country, where light pollution threatens the ability to literally see “…the stars at night,” which are supposed to be big and bright.

A report by KSAT stated that the city of Fredericksburg is presently looking at ways to reduce light pollution and make it official by earning the designation and formally becoming an International Dark-Sky community. “Nearly 80 percent of the United States can no longer see the Milky Way,” Ken Kattner, president of the International Dark-Sky Association and amateur astronomer, told the media. “Let’s do something about it now before it gets worse.”

A Houston attorney by day, Kattner has taken up the cause of defending Texas night skies. He owns an observatory in Fredericksburg, on Putnam Mountain. From this 24-foot tower (which almost has the likeness of an area grain silo), striking photographs are produced. The images feature nebulas and galaxies that are millions of light-years from Earth – all captured from this computer-controlled, robotic observatory. In the process of reducing light pollution and earning its official Dark Sky Designation, Fredericksburg would become third in the state, 14th in the U.S., and 19th in the entire world, allowing for even better opportunity to clearly look beyond what can only be seen at night.

Fredericksburg Could Soon Become 3rd Texas Hill Country City to Obtain Dark Sky Designation

Photo: Goodfreephotos

At present, Horseshoe Bay and Dripping Springs are the only other Texas cities with this designation – both of which are located in the Hill Country. Enchanted Rock, one of a number of state parks with the Dark-Sky Park designation, is extremely close to Fredericksburg – having the city also attain a formal designation would be a great complement to this achievement and an excellent accomplishment.

The city will need to meet a number of requirements to earn its designation and has begun to do so with the installation of a light sensor at Lady Bird Golf Course. Kattner, who was integral to this installation, explained that “Each night, it’ll take a reading every 10 to 15 minutes.” Additional measures will include the installation of LED lights throughout the city, which will face down as opposed to spreading their light elsewhere, thereby distorting our ability to see upwards. Small steps such as this could mean a world of change for Fredericksburg, which hopes to make their formal application submission in November for their Dark Sky designation.