McDonald Observatory, Terlingua Preservation Foundation Unite to Preserve Dark West Texas Skies

3 May 2005

WHO: The Terlingua Preservation Foundation in cooperation with The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis


WHAT: An entertaining and educational program on outdoor lighting control presented by Bill Wren, M.Ed., retired public affairs employee of McDonald Observatory. The program is tailored to address the outdoor lighting concerns of the Study Butte-Terlingua microplex.

WHEN: 6:00 p.m. Thursday, May 19, 2005

WHERE: Starlight Theatre in Terlingua Ghost Town (Terlingua, Texas)

WHY: Observatories are concerned about the increased outdoor lighting that comes with development. Light pollution decreases the ability of astronomers to observe objects in the sky like stars and galaxies. Observatories such as Kitt Peak (near Tucson) and Palomar (near Los Angeles) have suffered major light pollution from adjacent metro areas. According to Wren, “Astronomers have long recognized the need to control, not eliminate, night lighting and have pioneered the effort to prevent lights uselessly shining up into the sky.”

Today, that effort has led lighting manufacturers to make full-cutoff fixtures that direct night lights down and to the sides as needed and prevent light from shining up into the night sky. The result is more light where you want it for less electricity cost. “If you've ever seen a satellite photo of Earth at night, the countless lights visible from space are testament to the millions per night in electricity cost wasted,” Wren said.

The mission of the Terlingua Preservation Foundation (TPF) is to promote the preservation and appreciation of the Terlingua area's diverse architectural, cultural, and natural resources through research, restoration, and education.

According to Martha Stafford, president of the TPF board of directors, “The preservation of dark skies in the Terlingua area fits nicely with our mission and one that we enthusiastically support. The program is free, open to the public, and we encourage all interested area residents and business owners to attend to pick up some ideas about keeping our skies dark and maybe saving some electric cost.”

McDonald Observatory has partnered with its West Texas neighbor communities for many years to pursue responsible and safe “light solutions.” The observatory is a Lifetime Organizational Member of the International Dark-Sky Association. For more information on light solutions, visit the association's web site.

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Additional Media Contacts:

K. Russell Peterman
Superintendent, McDonald Observatory
(432) 426-3633

Jim Carrico
Terlingua Preservation Foundation
(432) 424-3316
(719) 580-3716 (mobile)