The Dark Skies in West Texas


I’ve had this post lined up for a while, with a little bit of an uncertainty of how to focus. Wax poetic on the beauty of summer nights? Or share my photos as a photo diary? Or speak up and talk about something deeper? I decided to go for the latter, so below is my important piece on Dark Sky country and why it is so important to preserve dark skies.

But then again…how can I not gush about these photos, and the memories they bring? From a chilly mountain night, overlooking the small historic town of Fort Davis, we snapped these photos and gazed at so many stars, constellations, and even a bollide (!). With the lights from the oil fields just ever so nearly out of sight, we had so many opportunities to gaze upon the heavens and chart the stars. I learned a lot, and observed a lot. I was in awe (a lot!). And it makes me a little sad to realize that so many people can’t see this, or won’t see this view, on any given night. Like Calvin and Hobbes say…

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Light Pollution and Dark Skies From the Experts

Why do Dark Skies matter? It gives us the closest possible glimpse into the cosmos from our vantage point here on Earth. Astronomers and observatories need Dark Skies to learn more about ourselves on Earth and the rest of the universe. 

Dark Sky country is endangered. Light pollution makes it next to impossible to see the Milky Way for most people, and even the most pristine and safeguarded places like Fort Davis are increasingly in danger of encroaching light pollution. While at McDonald, we had the pleasure to speak to an expert in the field about light pollution and its effects. McDonald is located just outside of the Permian Basin, one of the largest oil-producing sedimentary basins in the USA. Filled with disappointing facts about oil and gas companies in the Permian Basin, I expected the lecture to leave me hopeless about endangered dark skies. The thing is, I was left feeling the opposite! Light pollution is 100% reversible, and easily undone. All you need to really do is invest in the right type of lights. If you think about it, it makes total sense. Responsible lighting is pointed downward, with no light allowed to escape into the sky or facing up in any way. Many businesses in the area have seen the benefits of this type of dark-sky friendly lighting - safer work zones and reduced energy costs are the biggies. So the switch is happening, but it needs to happen faster. 

Learn more from the following links:

My other favorite trip to see the stars is archived here, from a drive out to far western Pennsylvania. Still one of the scariest yet coolest nights of my life!