Success Stories

Because we can, and because we should: An astronomy professor becomes a dark sky advocate

Three people stand before a storefront. A blue awning is above them printed with the words "Night Sky Coffee" in a lighter shade of blue. Lights are visible through the windows of the store. An A-frame sign with menu items appears at lower-left.

COMPASSE member Michelle Wooten (University of Alabama at Birmingham) shares her experiences listening to the people in her community who convinced her that, as a professional astronomy community, we carry responsibility to use our leverage to enable both current and future generations to witness, cherish, and discover the wonders of the universe – not just from space, but also from the ground.  We can do this through dark sky advocacy. 

A map of west Texas showing its counties outlined in black (enclosing their names). A green shaded area indicates the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve. The McDonald Observatory logo appears at lower right.

The Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve and McDonald Observatory

As Superintendent of McDonald Observatory, COMPASSE co-chair Teznie Pugh assisted in the accreditation of 9 million acres (3.6 million ha) of West Texas land as the world’s largest International Dark Sky Reserve (and the first to span an international border). Learn how the observatory supported the designation effort and how the Reserve concept supports the observatory’s mission.