DRIPPING SPRINGS — The first city in Texas designated as an official “Dark Sky Community” will play host on Friday, Aug. 15 to the International Dark-Sky Association’s annual conference.
The “Better Lights for Better Nights” symposium will feature presentations from environmental activists, legal experts, lighting designers and the McDonald Observatory’s loftily, if informally, titled “Ambassador of the Night Skies.” The line-up also includes Russel Reiter, a neuroendocrinology professor who suggests a relationship between prolonged nighttime exposure to artificial light and increased chances of female infertility and some cancers.
The dark skies conference will be held at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park Event Center, 1042 DS Ranch Road off Ranch Road 12. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the program begins at 11 a.m.
In 2000, the Dripping Springs City Council adopted an ordinance prohibiting outdoor lighting fixtures that contribute to “light pollution.” The law also caps “lumens” — a unit of measurement for visible light — in proportion to the size of a property.
In February, the Tuscon, Ariz.-based International Dark Sky Association named Dripping Springs the first “Dark Sky Community” in Texas — and only the sixth in the world. (The others are Flagstaff, Ariz.; Sedona, Ariz.; Borrego Springs, Calif.; Homer Glen, Ill.; Beverly Shores, Ind.; Sark, an island in the British Channel; and Coll, an island off the coast of Scotland.)
Dripping Springs’ resident dark-skies enthusiasts appear determined to make the most of the rare recognition. On March 28, the city will play host to the first Texas Night Sky Festival.
COVER: The falls at Hamilton Pool near Dripping Springs in autumn. PHOTO by JIM NIX. MERCURY PHOTO ILLUSTRATION by BRAD ROLLINS