City of Alpine Making Strides in Preserving Night Sky with Dark Skies Initiative and Updated Outdoor Lighting Ordinance

The City of Alpine is making strides in preserving its night sky through the Dark Skies Initiative, a partnership with McDonald Observatory and the Big Bend Conservation Alliance. The initiative supports the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve, the world’s largest, covering approximately 15,000 square miles.

To achieve this, the City of Alpine approved an updated Outdoor Lighting Ordinance in July 2021, which outlines and codifies how outdoor lighting should be installed within the city limits. Residents have until July 5, 2025, to become compliant with the new requirements. The City Manager sent letters to businesses in January 2023 reminding them of the updated requirements and timeline to achieve compliance.

The Outdoor Lighting Ordinance has a multi-faceted purpose, including reducing glare and improving nighttime visibility for safer, more secure, and attractive outdoor living spaces, conserving energy by encouraging efficient, controlled lighting, and protecting properties from light trespass. It also aims to preserve the city’s heritage of a clear, dark night sky, be mindful of McDonald Observatory’s need for minimal artificial light to conduct astronomical research, and position the city to apply for a designation as an International Dark Sky Community.

The City of Alpine is also grateful to the Big Bend Conservation Alliance for administering the Light Exchange Program, allowing residents to apply for a free dark-sky compliant light fixture in exchange for other non-compliant AEP light structures on their property.

City Manager Megan Antrim emphasizes that the new requirements encourage the use of best outdoor lighting practices, such as using light fixtures with shielding to direct light to the area to be lit, lowering the correlated color temperature from “cool” white light to “warm” white, and using adaptive controls like timers and motion sensors to limit the hours the light is in use.

For more information on the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve and the Dark Skies Initiative, please visit To view the full Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, please visit the City of Alpine’s website at


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