Recognition Program

Night Sky Friendly Lighting Recognition Program

McDonald Observatory wants to recognize and thank businesses or organizations that help protect our night sky by following our recommended outdoor lighting practices.

Night Sky Friendly outdoor lighting keeps light on the ground and out of the sky, helping to preserve the exceptional night skies Far West Texas is famous for. It’s also better for business: night sky friendly lighting designs improve visibility and safety, and can be more cost effective than traditional designs. They’re also better for our health and environment.

Recipients of the Night-Sky Friendly recognition will receive two window decals and two 5" x 5" stickers for display, an 11" x 17" poster, and will be recognized on our website and in local media where appropriate.

Lighting Principles

McDonald Observatory has the following recommendations for outdoor lighting:

1. Light fixtures should be shielded such that the bulb or light source is not visible from above or from off-property. Lights should be aimed down at the ground. 

2. The light sources should have a color temperature of 2,700K or below (soft white / amber).

3. Lights should not emit more light than is necessary. The total output should not exceed 50,000 lumens per net acre for businesses or public spaces, or 25,000 lumens per net acre for residential areas.

4. Lights that are not in use, including business signs or decorative lights after hours, should be turned off, put on a timer to turn off automatically, or only activated temporarily with a motion sensor.

5. Fixtures must comply with existing county or municipal lighting ordinances.


Do you know of or represent a business, organization, or residence that is night-sky friendly?

Nominate them here!


McDonald Observatory will consider nominations in the following Texas counties and the cities within:

  • Jeff Davis
  • Brewster
  • Presidio
  • Culberson
  • Pecos
  • Reeves
  • Hudspeth

Nominees do NOT need to perfectly conform to the recommended lighting guidelines in order to be considered. McDonald Observatory is happy to provide assistance and guidance on lighting practices to anyone interested, regardless of location. 

Nominees will be notified within 3-5 days with follow-up information and to arrange an in-person review of their outdoor lighting. An in-person review by a trained staff member or volunteer is required in order to be recognized.

Recognized locations are required to notify McDonald Observatory of any significant changes to their outdoor lighting, and reply to an annual check-in.


Recognized Locations

Click here to see the full list of locations


Jeff Davis County Courthouse, Fort Davis, TX
Justen Pautzke / McDonald Observatory

Marfa Gardens, Marfa, TX
Stephen Hummel / McDonald Observatory

Printco Building, Alpine, TX
Stephen Hummel / McDonald Observatory

Altus Midstream Diamond Cryogenic Complex
Reeves County, Texas
Bill Wren / McDonald Observatory

Javelina Hideout, Terlingua, Texas
Stephen Hummel / McDonald Observatory

Big Bend Stargazer, Terlingua, Texas
Stephen Hummel / McDonald Observatory

Frama & Tumbleweed Laundry, Marfa, Texas
Stephen Hummel / McDonald Observatory