Oct 15, 2021 - Things to Do

Austin's stars at night are not so bright

The Milky Way, as seen over Fort Davis, Texas

The Milky Way, seen over Fort Davis, Texas. Photo: Alan Dyer /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Like Christmas lights with burnt-out bulbs, stars are disappearing from our night skies as light pollution grows ever brighter.

Driving the news: For Night Skies Month, a band of Central Texans is aiming to dim outside lights a smidge.

The big picture: Because of the growing glow of artificial lights, as many as 80% of Americans have never seen the Milky Way, the galaxy that includes our solar system.

  • Austin's McKinney Falls State Park gets a score of 7 out of 9 — the higher the number, the more polluted your night sky — which means most stars are totally invisible, or nearly so.
  • Rugged, remote Big Bend Ranch State Park earns a 1 — the light from far off corners of our galaxy is so bright it casts shadow in the night.

How it works: Many area restaurants, breweries and distilleries will celebrate Hill Country Night Sky Month with candlelight dining and drinking on the night of the next full moon, Oct. 20.

  • The full moon "offers a perfect time to call attention to the benefits of using outdoor lighting responsibly," Hays County Friends of the Night Sky board member Soll Sussman said. "As the county continues to grow, it's more important than ever to protect the dark and our view of the night sky."
  • Participating spots include: Vista Brewing in Driftwood; Twisted X Brewing Co.; Acopon Brewing; The Hub, the League at Belterra Village and Treaty Oak Distilling in Dripping Springs; Water 2 Wine Buda; Mud Bugs; Amici; Pie Shack ATX, Brooklyn's Down South; and Main Street Pizzeria & Beer Garden in Buda.

Upcoming night sky events this Saturday, Oct. 16:

Moon observation night at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site in Stonewall, 6:30-10pm.

What you can do: Turn out the lights.


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