The Milky Way at the Big Bend Observatory , Terlingua , Texas ; Page and Carol Graham
1 ) Black Gap Wildlife Management Area ; 2 ) Big Bend National Park ; 3 ) Big Bend Ranch State Park ; 4 ) Chinati Mountains State Natural Area ; 5 ) Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area ; 6 ) Fort Davis National Historic Site ; 7 ) Davis Mountains State Park ; 8 ) Davis Mountains Preserve-The Nature Conservancy 9 ) Guadalupe Mountains National Park ; 10 ) Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute ; 11 ) Área de Protección Flora y Fauna Cañon de Santa Elena ; 12 ) Área de Protección Flora y Fauna Ocampo ; 13 ) Área de Protección Flora y Fauna Maderas del Carmen ; 14 ) Balmorhea State Park ; 15 ) University of Texas McDonald Observatory ; 16 ) Carlsbad Caverns National Park ;
In July 2020 , the University of Texas McDonald Observatory went public with an ambitious plan to create an International Dark Association ( IDA ) certified Dark Sky Reserve : The Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve ( DSR ). The proposed DSR spans Northern Mexico , Southwestern Texas , and New Mexico and will protect and improve night sky viewing for nearly 10 million acres – more precisely 9,737,828 acres . Already , 16 local , state , federal and private land managers , agencies , and entities have signed on to help ensure that world-class quality night sky conditions endure in the Big Bend for future generations to enjoy .
According to the IDA ( ida . org ), a Dark Sky Reserve is “ a public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and anocturnal environment which is specifically protected for its scientific , natural , educational , cultural , heritage and / or public enjoyment qualities .” The Big Bend DSR will become Earth ’ s most recent - and largest - protected night sky region , polishing the region ’ s global reputation as a destination for scientific discovery , astro-tourism , and top-quality night sky experiences . What ’ s more , DSRs generate important ecological and human health benefits .