Flower Mound Becoming Stargazing City


Fatima Jafri, Staff Writer

Flower Mound is in pursuit of becoming a stargazing city, as the town’s council settled on a resolution proclaiming that the town intends to become a Dark Sky Community through the International Dark-Sky Association. This means the city will have clear night skies and a nearby place to point out stars and planets in the solar system.

A Dark Sky Community is a town or city that embraces lowering light pollution in industrial, commercial and residential settings. They are protected areas that make a commitment to protect and preserve the night. Having low light pollution allows people to easily sight stars and planets in the sky. Flower Mound becoming a Dark Sky Community  means that the Town Council acknowledges light pollution is a problem. This is important because the effects of light pollution on the natural light of the sky are a main reason astronomers have to be so far away from towns and cities to study the stars. According to the council, Flower Mound has had an outdoor lighting ordinance since 2002, meaning that the city has promised to be environmentally clean and safe.

“Flower Mound becoming a Dark Sky Community means that it would be the largest town/city in the United States to get the designation. This is not an easy task,” said astronomy teacher Mr. Horstmeyer. “Not only the size of our population, but the number of nearby cities makes the task extremely difficult. I am not sure we will be able to meet the required standards but it is well worth the attempt. If Flower Mound can get its community to buy in, educate and encourage, we might have a chance,” he said. How could this policy affect the school? Horstmeyer explains that “some changes would have to be made to the big flood lights we have at Neil E.Wilson stadium.”

However, becoming a Dark Sky Community could also be beneficial for students. “Right now there is only so much we can see when we do our [astronomy class] night labs. The closest designated true dark location is three hours away. Students always love the night labs and get excited and proud when they are able to identify constellations to their friends and family. Making Flower Mound a Dark Sky Community will help promote the beauty of our sky and regain appreciation of that which we have been losing over time.” 

With that said, students are excited that the city is making an effort to help the environment and become a stargazing site.

“I am excited to have stargazing sites—especially since other students studying astronomy from a young age would have the opportunity to look at the stars closer to home,” senior astronomy student Dylan Zechman remarks. “It would allow me to have access to better resources and study the stars leisurely from my bedroom window if need be. Anyone could study the stars without having to go far” she continues, and “would encourage stargazing and interest in stars.”

Astronomers say that Autumn and Winter are the best times to stargaze since nights are longer. Moreover, the best stargazing can only be achieved when the night is dark, dry, clear, free of clouds, smoke and the speed of winds are low. Essentially, the sky should be less saturated and pollution free. 

It is difficult to say whether Flower Mound will fully become a Dark Sky Community. The city’s abundance in artificial lighting could limit people from naturally observing the stars’ lights. Needless to say, it would be influential if Flower Mound were to become a Dark Sky Community, since it would help the environment and people. For now, be on the lookout for Saturn, Mars, Jupiter and Venus throughout the month, as they can be easily spotted in a clear sky!