As many of you know, Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) is actively seeking to protect the night sky environment in and around state parks, rapidly becoming the last publicly accessible bastions of dark skies (see article below). Astronomy groups are playing critical roles by partnering with regional park staff to help them adopt dark sky friendly outdoor lighting and offer night sky programming. Other groups are helping with limited funding for lighting hardware and are spreading the word about night sky preservation.
Astronomers are uniquely qualified to help TPW evaluate existing and planned lighting installations. Some light fixtures might simply need adjustments (like re-aiming floodlights), others may require hardware retrofits, replacements, switches, timers, etc. Attached is a spreadsheet provided by Cindy Luongo Cassidy that can be used for a systematic approach to conducting audits. Additionally, photographic documentation of existing lights at night is extremely valuable for before and after comparisons.
TPW plans to continue sending staff to McDonald Observatory for training in night sky programs, and we are looking into the possibility of inviting astronomy groups to the observatory to train in working with the parks on both outdoor lighting and public programming. More on that later.
Key to the success of the TPW initiative is dark sky friendly lighting. Please keep this in the front of your mind and on the tip of your tongue as we move forward.
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