A 2019 study estimated tourists will spend approximately $523 million in 2021 to see dark skies in the Colorado Plateau, a region that spans parts of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Locally, a 2024 total solar eclipse has the potential to attract astro-tourists to Central Texas, local dark sky advocates said. $600M VISITOR SPENDING IN THE COLORADO PLATEAU REGION The astro-tourism impact
Light pollution consists of any form of wasted light in a natural environment. There are four main categories of light pollution, according to the Hill Country Alliance. GLARE: When a light shines directly into your eyes from an oncoming vehicle or street lamp and reduces your visibility LIGHT TRESPASS: When articial light shines across your own property line LIGHT CLUTTER: Light clutter can be seen in the glare of downtown city centers such as Austin, which is ooded with articial light from oce buildings, trac and other contributors SOURCE: HILL COUNTRY ALLIANCE COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER SKY GLOW: When outdoor light shines up into the atmosphere and creates a hazy glow from around the U.S.—and sometimes from around the world—to catch astronomical events in areas with a preserved night sky. In 2019, two researchers Comparing light pollution potential to generate billions of economic impact dollars in the Colorado Plateau, a region that encompasses parts of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. The study states nonlocal tourists from the area “who value dark skies” will spend from Missouri State University estimated astro-tourists have the
$5.8 billion in the area over the next decade, generating $2.4 billion in higher wages for workers. As it so happens, a major astronomical event will cross through Central Texas in 2024 that may draw in international visitors. A total solar eclipse will cross through North America on April 8, 2024, similar to the event that occurred Aug. 21, 2017, according to the American Astronomical Society. The path of totality, where it is possible to observe the phenomenon of total eclipse, will run straight through the Hill Country, cutting just west of Austin on a path north to Montreal. Cindy Luongo Cassidy, the IDA Texas chapter director, anticipates tourists will ock from all corners of the Earth to observe the total solar eclipse around Austin. And when they come, Luongo Cassidy said, they will be searching for Dark Sky communities where the eclipse will not be interrupted by articial light. “Those people want to nd a place where they can have a reasonable place to stay and where there won’t be nasty lights that come on during the eclipse,” Luongo Cassidy said. “People who come for the eclipse will stay for the whole week. You talk about good tourism dollars—I imagine it will be quite busy around here.”
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Senate Bill 1090 • Eective Sept. 1 • Allows Texas cities to adopt lighting regulations no more restrictive than needed to become certied as a Dark Sky Community by the International Dark- Sky Association SOURCE: TEXAS LEGISLATURE ONLINECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
SOURCE: MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER *ECONOMIC IMPACT DATA FOR 2020-24 IS ESTIMATED.
Development concerns While the Texas Hill Country has become a hot spot for astro-tourism, it has also been the site of emerging developments and population growth. The increase in large master-planned communities is a real concern for dark sky advocates such as Davies. “The entire Central Texas area is growing
exponentially, both in overall residents moving here but also in industry commercial growth. So there’s a large amount of unintentional, and I’d say undirected, light that is being thrown up into our night skies,” she said. Amid this record growth and new development, Davies said it is important municipalities, neighborhoods, developers
and residents share a commitment in reducing light pollution.
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