Stars Over Texas


The blacker the better!

When it comes to looking at the night sky, don't be afraid of the dark!


Used by permission of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory

In fact, if too much light shines, you won't be able to see much cool stuff at all.

What's "light pollution?" Misdirected, misused, or just too much light that creates a glow in the sky.

When light creates too much glow in the sky, it's like polluting the sky with light.'s light pollution.


This photo was taken by NASA to show many lights we have on Earth.

But even in the city, where light pollution can be its worst, on nights with no clouds or moon, you can spot 1000 stars. So even if you live in the city you can still get out there and see some awesome astronomical stuff!

The sky appears differently depending upon the time of the year!

As Earth orbits around the sun, the night side of our planet faces the sun at different times of the year. That means the sky appears differently depending upon what time of the year you look at it.

Why? For the same reason that we have different seasons – because of the way Earth tilts on its axis. Since Texas lies pretty close to the equator, our view of the night sky won’t change as much as the view will for states higher up such as Nebraska or North Dakota.


Map of continental United States

West Texas has the darkest skies in the continental U.S.!

Lunar Laser

Used by permission of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory

Where's the "continental (con-tin-in-tul) U.S.?" That's the part of the United States where all the states are attached to each other. The continental U.S. includes all the states except Alaska and Hawaii. That equals 48 states of our 50 states.

Out of 48 states, the west part of Texas has the darkest skies!

West Texas provides a home for the world-famous University of Texas McDonald Observatory. There, scientists called "astronomers" (ah-straw-NO-mers) study "astronomy" (ah-straw-NO-me), the science of outer space.

McDonald Observatory

Image used under terms of Creative Commons. Photo by Zereshk.

Telescope - 01

Photo by Gabrielle Conley, Copyright 2011

Every year 700 serious stargazers gather in West Texas for the Texas Star Party. It's "Lights out!" after sundown for these amateur astronomers so they can enjoy the darkest skies possible.



The cosmos shine extra brightly in west Texas!

| Constellations  ==>