Texas Living

The Stars at Night are Big and Bright…

By Matthew Shelley 3.19.13

On the right night in Texas, the starlit universe extends from horizon to horizon and paints itself across the canopy of sky with endless resplendence, allowing one to realize just how small we are and how amazing and expansive our world is beyond this beautiful planet.

In the right place and under the right conditions, it’s almost hard to see an empty spot between each star’s light. While searching for the best conditions and places to plan a fantastic stargazing venture in Texas, you could research the Bortle scale of atmospheric brightness, check the cloud coverage, moon phase, and position, etc., but to make your job a little easier, here are a few great tips and places to get the most of your stargazing adventure.

Less moon means more visibility, so check the moon phase on any one of the easily accessible moon phase calendars online.

If you want to see the sinewy beauty and spinning branches of the Milky Way, it’s also best when the moon is below the horizon, which happens very late during the winter months. It can also be viewed during the summer, and that goes well with the warm summer nights here in Texas.

The best views

The best viewing places are really anywhere you can get away from the city lights. The farther the better. West Texas towns, such as Marfa and Fort Davis, offer an exquisitely clean sky for viewing, and one of the most incredible views to be experienced is in the summer on a clear night near Sweetwater. Stars wrap and covers every inch of the sky, almost entrancing you with endless brightness and detail.

Glenrose and Tyler also offer an outstanding escape from the lights in both of their state parks. And the Hill Country surrounding Austin and San Antonio, with its diverse and lush landscape, is one of the best places to view a clear night of sky atop any of the hills that stretch across its lavish landscape.

Texas is a wide, open expanse of land that possesses some of the best stargazing availability from many regions, as long as you can pull yourself away from the bright city lights. But it is definitely worth the effort. Prepare to be wowed by the vast beauty and clarity that falls gently onto your eyes as you cast them skyward.