Star-spangled atmosphere

Houston glows in new ranking of cities with clear 4th of July skies

Houston glows in new ranking of cities with clear 4th of July skies

Freedom Over Texas Houston fireworks
On a clear night, you can see the fireworks from all over the city. Photo courtesy of Freedom Over Texas

Houston has a fairly glowing ranking on a new list of cities with best Fourth of July fireworks displays.

study from Australian price-shopping platform Compare The Market ranks Houston at No. 21 among 30 major U.S. cities for the least amount of light pollution, with a light pollution factor score of 211.25.

Fort Worth had the lowest light pollution factor (47.15) in 2021 among the 30 cities.

Elsewhere in Texas, Fort Worth ranked No. 1 with the lowest light pollution factor (47.15), Austin ranked sixth (117.17), El Paso came in at No. 16 (186.49), San Antonio landed at No. 17 (201.98), and Dallas ranked 18th (203.76).

Detroit had the highest light pollution factor (417.13) of the 30 cities.

“There’s nothing wrong with backyard sparklers and poppers, but if you want to see the country’s biggest, brightest, and most spectacular fireworks displays, you have to find the places with the clearest skies!” Compare The Market declares.

According to the International Dark-Sky Association, 99 percent of Americans are subjected to light pollution.

“Light pollution is a side effect of industrial civilization. Its sources include building exterior and interior lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights, and illuminated sporting venues,” the association says.

Outside major urban areas in Texas, some spots that lack light pollution have become tourist destinations. One of the state’s most prominent dark-sky destinations is the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, situated in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.

“Texas has many tourist attractions, but one of the most valuable is right above our heads every night. The Texas sky, where the stars are still big and bright, is drawing more and more visitors to dark sky areas,” the association’s Texas chapter says.

“As skies grow more light polluted in our cities, Texans and non-Texans alike find themselves just wanting a night under the stars away from the lights, and parents want to show their children the Milky Way and stars like they remember from their youth.”