BEE CAVE, Texas (KXAN) — Thanks to new lighting, the city of Bee Cave became Texas’ 7th “International Dark Community” and now has one of the state’s clearest views of the stars.

“Bee Cave joins a growing list of places certified in Dark Sky’s International Dark Sky Places Program in Texas, with several concentrated in the Hill Country region of the state,” said International Dark Sky Association (IDA) Places Program Associate Amber Harrison in a press release. “This addition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of dark-sky advocates throughout the state. The leadership of our advocates is remarkable, and it is an honor to get to recognize them through this certification.”

Bee Cave is the 40th place to receive the designation. Other locations in Texas include Blanco, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Horseshoe Bay, Lakewood Village and Wimberly Valley.

According to the IDA, the city achieved the designation thanks to a 2022 ordinance, which changed municipal lighting to lower light pollution options, as well as community awareness programs.

The Milky Way, visible from Bee Cave. Courtesy: Mary Lyons

The “magic of the night sky”

For Bee Cave Mayor Kara King, the designation is a “huge win” for her community. According to King, nighttime visibility improved immediately and community feedback was positive.

“Just like any city kind of has a halo glow that comes with artificial light,” said King of prior conditions. “It really was amazing how much people were commenting that the night sky looked brighter… now we have our Texas night sky back.”

But it also ties to King’s personal hope for the people: an unobstructed view of the night sky. It also reminds King of her previous career as a science teacher.

“I’m very passionate about our kids learning and understanding our world,” King said, “And our children today spend a lot of time looking down at their phones. I’m hoping the awareness of this designation will help encourage them and their families to look up.”

King said that her grandfather taught her the names of constellations, sparking a love of the stars.

“Those are magical memories for me,” King said. “I’m really excited that our area families are going to be able to look up and discover that same magic of the night sky.”