Did you know that Dripping Springs is the first International Dark Sky Community in Texas and the world’s sixth Dark Sky Community? How cool is that? To prevent light pollution, Dripping Springs City Council adopted the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance in 2000.
As the authority on light pollution, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) serves to protect the night sky from light pollution. Founded in 2001, the International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) Program recognizes legally organized cities and towns that adopt high-quality outdoor lighting ordinance. They also take steps to educate residents about the importance of dark skies.
Learn about the Skies
One benefit of being an International Dark Sky Community is that residents and visitors can enjoy the night sky without any disruption from light pollution. You won’t find a better stargazing experience than the one in Dripping Springs.
On top of this, you can learn more about the sky and universe at Reimers Observatory (23610 Hamilton Rd., Dripping Springs, TX 78620). The observatory houses two large telescopes. Residents can take telescope classes and attend a two-hour program. The program teaches visitors about the science behind what’s in the sky and stories about the stars.
Whenever you go, bring binoculars. And dress for the weather as the observatory is open to the night air. You can access the observatory by entering at the Reimers Ranch Park entrance. Private group viewings are available for groups of up to 30 people.
Tips for Stargazing
To help you get started, check out the stargazing basics from Sky and Telescope. Before you leave home, pack blankets and snacks if you plan to watch the stars for a long time. Choose a dark place on high ground. Considering Dripping Springs is a Dark Sky Community, you won’t have to look hard for a great viewing spot.
Even with the low light pollution, you still want to pick the best night for stargazing. Shoot for a night of clear skies, free from cloud cover. Sometimes the summer humidity can blur views. A bright moon can also steal the show from the rest of the sky.
If you need light during your stargazing session, make it a red light. You can get a piece of red cellophane to place over the flashlight of your phone or a regular flashlight. Why red? It’s easier on the eyes. White and blue lights can cause your eyes to readjust to the dark.
It might help to download stargazing apps like Google Sky Map, Stellarium, or Starwalk. The International Space Station can be seen from time to time. To find the best time to look for the ISS, check NASA’s Spot the Station website. Enjoy stargazing in Dripping Springs!