Terlingua Ranch Dark Sky Cetification

April 30, 2022

Stephen Hummel did an inventory of the lighting at the lodge headquarters. This is his report.

“I think there are just a few mostly easy fixes to get the location up to the dark sky standards. When these fixes are done, we can recognize the ranch in our Night-Sky Friendly Recognition Program, and it can serve as an example to others.

1. Front Office:

There are two “carriage”style lights at the front office by the door and bulletin board. The bulbs are good but the fixtures would be improved by shielding.

This is a simple, cheap fixture that will do the trick. There are lots of other similar options, depending on your design preference. Just make sure that the shield extends below the bottom of the bulb- the term for that is “full cut-off”. If you’re in doubt, These bulbs work well in most applications.

There was also a bare bulb by the cafe back-door that could use this same style of fixture.

2. Landscape lights

The solar powered landscape lights could be improved. Some of them were good, but some were a white color and aimed upwards, which resulted in poor illumination of the hazards. If they sat on a taller pole, they could be aimed more down and cover more area. Something like this will work. They are 10 lumens, low enough to not be a big issue from a night sky perspective.  If you need to make them taller, you could insert a metal or painted pvc pipe below to extend it. I also recommended using cellophane to cover the light to indicate points of note- for example, you could say to guests “turn right at the red/green/whatever light”.

2. Stairs by Bad Rabbit Cafe

This light is better than I thought it would be at first glance. They are fully shielded because the diodes are recessed slightly in the housing. Obviously, the light is necessary here to illuminate the hazardous path. I recommend putting an anti-glare film over the fixture to cut down on the harshness underneath the light, and filter out some of the blue spectrum. These only slightly reduce the brightness overall so more than adequate illumination will be maintained.

3. String Lights

The string lights are on a timer, which is good practice, but they would still benefit from being shielded as well. String lights do look nice, but spill a large amount of light into the sky and unfortunately are a growing source of light pollution. There are a few shielded string lights available, such as this one.

4. Lights on pole near the Cafe courtyard area

These bright floodlights illuminate a large area and are aimed at a high angle. Luckily, they are mounted up high. With a fully shielded fixture, the rule of thumb is that you can illuminate an area 4x the mounting height. So, even if they were aimed straight down and level with the horizon, the existing bulbs should cover most if not all of the area needed. Adding a shield (piece 1, piece 2) will allow you to aim it up slightly without spilling into the sky (or onto Jim’s property!).

5. Side lights near Cafe courtyard

There were a couple of unshielded flood lights that did not seem to be in active use anymore, or were redundant with other lights. It’s best to remove these, even if they are not used, just to help set a good example.

As I mentioned, I know the Ranch has lots of other things to do, so I don’t expect you to make all of these changes overnight. Just keep me posted, and I’ll check in later on.

Let me know if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help!”


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