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Wimberley ISD debuts 'dark sky-friendly' lights at football stadium

WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) -- Wimberley ISD will debut new stadium lights Friday night that emit less ambient light as part of the city's commitment to keeping the skies dark at night.

Wimberley was designated as an International Dark Sky Community earlier this summer, meaning light pollution doesn't obscure views of the night sky.

As part of that ongoing commitment, voters in May approved a bond package for the school district that included money for the new lights.

"You'll be able to look up at the sky and actually see the big dipper and, you know, enjoy our big bright sky," Wimberley ISD communications director Deyanira Romo Rossell said.

Instead of traditional stadium lights, the new ones are shielded on top so they only direct light where it's needed and don't send blue light emissions into the sky. 

The district finished installing them before the school year, and Friday marks the first varsity home game in which they'll be used. Funds to replace them, totaling about $300,000, were allocated through a May bond election voters in Wimberley approved.

"I think everyone can picture in their minds how bright stadium lights are," Shannon du Plessis, chairman of the Wimberley Valley Dark Sky Committee, said, adding that the new lights are a good step toward keeping the skies dark.

The committee held its first star party at Blue Hole Regional Park over the summer after Wimberley received the designation. Texas State University's astronomy club brought telescopes to the soccer fields there for people to get a closer look at the Milky Way.

The committee plans to host more of the parties, and the next will include artists. 

There's been a lot of buy-in from people around Wimberley to reduce the amount of ambient light they put into the atmosphere, du Plessis said, "and then we have companies, local businesses, that are changing their lights to be dark sky compliant."

But there's still work to do, not just for the people and companies that don't know about the new designation, but for the entire town.

"People think that we've gotten the designation and, yay, that's great, and now we can rest," she said. "Well, not really. We have to keep it."

Two other Texas cities are on the list of International Dark Sky Communities, Dripping Springs and Horseshoe Bay. 


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