Light Pollution is Threatening the Texas Night Sky, But Not if TPWD Has Anything to Say About It

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Featured on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube channel, the video clip entitled “Dark Skies: The Night’s Watch” focuses on the Davis Mountains in west Texas and the efforts that people are expending in order to protect the area from light pollution.

Highlighting McDonald Observatory in Jeff Davis County, this short video (less than 10 minutes) discusses the active educational outreach program that has been an integral component of operations. Bill Wren (from the observatory) and Tara Poloskey (from Davis Mountains State Park), educators and dark sky advocates, help to narrate the TPWD video, explaining light pollution and its effects. Understanding the levels of such pollution since the 1950s, viewers can very quickly see where it’s headed and what it means for seeing “…the stars at night” big and bright, out in west Texas.

How would you feel if you moved out to the countryside with the goal in mind of being able to view the stars and constellations overhead, but in the course of the next decade, so much development took place around you that you were no longer able to see the beauty of the stars? It’s a sad twist of fate, unfortunately, but one that can be avoided if planning and education come into play. Larry Francell, County Commissioner of Jeff Davis County, also narrates a component of this video, stating that their area has actively been pursuing the reduction of light pollution for some time now, and where exactly that’s coming from in west Texas. A look at the inner workings of the McDonald Observatory is granted to viewers in the earlier part of the video, as Wren proceeds to outline how powerful the facility is for the viewing of faint objects. With ever-increasing light pollution, that viewing power is weakened, which makes for a strong argument against expansion into yet-undeveloped parts of our state.