Oil Vs. Astronomy: The Race to Protect the Night Sky in West Texas

West Texas is famed worldwide for its vast crude oil reserves. But for over 75 years, a small patch of the Permian Basin has also been valued for its pitch-black night sky.Those two prized natural resources have clashed in recent years as oil drilling has brightened the sky near McDonald Observatory. A collaboration between the petroleum industry and the observatory — home of North America's largest telescope — appears to have made progress in slowing the creeping light pollution.But there are no guarantees about the night sky's future as Permian Basin production hits record levels and drilling inches closer to one of the darkest spots on the continent."Fortunately, we're far enough away — at least for now — from most of the oil and gas activity," said Bill Wren, special assistant to the observatory's superintendent. "And we're surrounded by mountains, so we don't actually see it line-of-sight. We just see a glow on the horizon. ... The sky overhead is still incredibly dark."  Continue reading...

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