TexasNightSkyStars (2)As light pollution continues to increase from rapidly growing urban sprawl, the sparkling starlit night skies of Texas have dulled for many across the state.  Instead of allowing our magnificent star-filled nights to fade into a cherished memory, there is a statewide effort to limit excessive artificial lighting and restore the brilliance of the glittering night time sky.
Plans for a first ever Texas Night Sky Festival are well underway and the organizers’ intent is to increase appreciation of the night sky and promote the protection and enjoyment of one of the Earth’s most beautiful and natural resources.
Hosted by the International Dark-Sky Association Texas Section (IDA Texas), Hays County Chapter Texas Master Naturalists and the City of Dripping Springs, Texas Night Sky Festival will be held Saturday, March 5th from 3pm  to 10 pm at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park and Event Center at 1042 Event Center Drive in Dripping Springs.
Individuals and families are invited to attend a FREE celebration of the Texas night sky with something for everyone, from kids to astronomers. The festival will feature fun activities and include the display of festival specific photo and art contests, solar observations, a Discovery Dome planetarium, exhibits from Texas Dark Sky places, demonstrations of glare-reducing lighting, special NASA displays, opportunities to meet astronomers, a dark sky silent auction, tasty food, live music, and a good, old-fashioned Star Party. In addition, there will be engaging exhibits and hands-on activities for all ages, as well as opportunities for kids to earn patches or scouting badges.
Attendees will not want to miss special speakers who will weave tales of the night sky from Lakota tradition, and from Greek and Roman mythology. Paul Bogard, renowned speaker and author of The End of Night and other books, will captivate the audience as he shares his inspiring and beautiful words about the dark sky.
For more information, go to http://www.texasnightskyfestival.org
IDA Texas Leader Cindy Luongo Cassidy said event organizers chose Dripping Springs as the location for the festival because the City of Dripping Springs was the first community in Texas – and sixth in the world – to receive the International Dark-Sky Community designation. The City has been recognized internationally for its efforts to adopt lighting standards which reduce light pollution in the City limits.
“Those lighting standards greatly reduce glare and light trespass and encourage lighting that puts the illumination where you need it to see better. It also encourages the community to thoughtfully use lighting because, when we choose how we use artificial light at night, we have to consider the fact that almost every living thing on our planet uses the cycle of light and dark to trigger life processes,” Cassidy said.
Dripping Springs City Administrator Michelle Fischer said Dripping Springs area residents value and want to preserve the pristine environment, wildlife, expansive land and dazzling night skies they enjoy. “Business leaders and residents were willing to comply with lighting standards when they learned how artificial lighting disrupts ecosystems, wildlife behavior, plant growth, natural food webs, and human health.  They were also pleased to learn safety benefits, cost savings, and simple ways to position or shield existing lighting,” Fischer said. “We want to share our positive experience with others.”
Hays County Texas Master Naturalist Dixie Camp said her Chapter enthusiastically decided to partner in hosting the festival because they are “interested in preserving the night sky in order to reduce the negative effects of light pollution on fauna and flora.” She added “we want to help educate others, so we can keep our Texas stars shining brightly.”
Cassidy concluded, “the Texas Night Sky Festival will be a wonderful venue to discover the magical treasures that are all around us after dark, share a passion for stargazing with others, take home a book or work of art inspired by the night sky, and learn easy steps to see better at home while also reducing light pollution.”
Please contact the City of Dripping Springs today at 512-858-4725 to inquire about the festival or look online at http://www.texasnightskyfestival.org.