No Light at Night

BROWNSVILLE — Construction of the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley observatory at Resaca de la Palma State Park is nearing completion.

Within the next few weeks, the observatory should be fully operational so students can use it in the fall, said Mario Diaz, director of the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy.

“These things take a long time, but to realize you’re finally completing your goal makes me happy about it,” Diaz said. “And Pablo de Yturbe (the park superintendent) has been a great supporter.”

Due in part to the university’s growth and increased Border Patrol activity, lighting on the campus grounds at night was becoming too much for the old observatory, Diaz said.

So when a student suggested Resaca de la Palma State Park as the new location, Diaz contacted Yturbe.

“He was very supportive of an observatory for the park. He’s even had some of the park rangers trained and sent them to the McDonald Observatory (near Fort Davis),” Diaz said.

The partnership just made sense, Yturbe said.

“There’s no light at night so they have good visibility and for us, it would help with visitation because we’ll have astronomy programs at the park,” Yturbe said.

The student was right — the park was an ideal spot. In fact, it is one of the darkest places at night in the Brownsville area, Diaz said.

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