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The Source: Our Endangered Night Sky

Paul Flahive


It is estimated that one-fifth of the world can no longer see the Milky Way, other estimates have said as high as 80% can't see it from their homes. The 2,500 stars that are visible from a truly dark place are reduced to less than 300, if you are lucky. 

Here in Texas we are fortunate to have some great star-gazing spots, such as Big Bend National Park and just recently, Enchanted Rock State Park between Austin and San Antonio was given "dark sky status."

The vast expanse of our undeveloped areas, along with its dark skies, are under threat with burgeoning oil and gas developments. Even far West Texas' Macdonald Observatory worries about the future of star visibility as permits are issued to drill in surrounding communities.



Credit Bill Wren / MacDonald Observatory

Some cities in Texas are trying to preserve the night sky, including Dripping Springs, which became the first city in the state and only the sixth in the world to be certified a "Dark Sky Community" by the International Dark-Sky Association.  

In addition to the loss of the night sky, the ubiquitousness of artificial light in our lives has real implications for both mental and physical health. Many studies have shown a link between it and several health issues.

What do we lose when can't see the stars? What are the reactions to never-ending light?


*This is the first segment in the August 14 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.  

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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive