Texas Dark Skies Festival Focuses on Astronomy and Space Exploration
The Texas Dark Skies Festival, a Border Zone event, will be held October 30 & 31, 2015. This is going to be the most awesome event yet and will again feature wonderful presentations about outer space, astronomy, science fiction, and other “out of this world” topics. Make your plans now to attend during the Halloween weekend. On the same weekend, Presidio will rock to the spectacular sounds of the “Dude of the Dead” Music Festival. It’s two big events in the beautiful Big Bend on the same weekend!!!
Texas Senate Recognizes our Texas Dark Skies Festival
On April 30, the Texas Senate passed a resolution (SR 656) recognizing that Big Bend Ranch State Park in Presidio has some of the darkest skies in the world and also commending Presidio for its new “Texas Dark Skies Festival.” To read the resolution in its entirety, go to https://legiscan.com/TX/text/SR656/2015.
Astronomer Bill Wren, Dark Sky Expert, to Speak
McDonald Observatory’s Bill Wren has been called “the ambassador of dark skies” in Texas. Wren, a graduate of UT-Austin, has been associated with McDonald Observatory in Ft. Davis for over 20 years. He has been interested in astronomy since he was a child, looking at the dark skies with his dad.
Bill Wren was featured recently on the CBS News “Sunday Morning” program, in which he is referred to as “the Angel of Darkness” because of his efforts to make the Big Bend area one of the darkest spots on the globe. According to CBS, the darkness is “thanks to men like Bill Wren, a veteran astronomer at McDonald Observatory, the largest and one of the busiest optical telescopes in North America. It sits atop a west Texas mountain. Wren’s nicknames include the ‘Angel of Darkness.’ And what does that mean? ‘Well, just that I’m the light police,’ he laughed. Saving the darkness of the night sky is his mission. Using grant money, he offers free light fixtures that aim light down and away from the night sky.Wren and others also helped change building codes to make ‘down’ lights mandatory in seven counties covering 28,000 square miles.” Below is the TV segment in which Bill appears:
Why Presidio’s Dark Night Sky is Ideal for Sky Watching
The Presidio area has one of the darkest night skies in the world. The areas just outside of town around Cibolo Creek Ranch and also at the Big Bend Ranch State Park measure a “Class 1″ (absolute darkest skies) as measured on the Bortle Light Pollution Scale.
The scale is a nine-level numeric scale that measures the night sky’s brightness of a particular location. It quantifies the astronomical observability of celestial objects and the interference caused by light pollution. John E. Bortle created the scale and published it in the February 2001 edition of Sky & Telescope magazine to help amateur astronomers evaluate the darkness of an observing site, and secondarily, to compare the darkness of observing sites. The scale ranges from Class 1, the darkest skies available on Earth, through Class 9, inner-city skies.
The following image shows light sources for the state with the arrow pointing to the dark area in the Big Bend:
More information about Presidio’s Dark Skies is at: