Students take advantage of less light pollution, view stars


Diane Guo

Since there was little light pollution due to the snowstorm, the stars seemed to become even more bright and remarkable.

Emma Chang and Dawson Chang

For the first time in years, junior Jessie Beck could see the stars from her neighborhood. Since there was little light pollution due to the snowstorm, the stars seemed to become even more bright and remarkable. That night, she climbed to the top of West University Elementary School for a better view of the stars. 

“It felt like a dream,” Beck said. “Seeing a normally hot and polluted city having snow and starry skies seemed unreal.”

Starting Feb. 15, Houston experienced sub-freezing temperatures caused by Winter Storm Uri. The snowstorm left many students, faculty and citizens bundled in their frigid houses without water, electricity or heat. Without artificial light from buildings, the stars became more visible.

Facing a similar experience as Beck, junior Ellie Eikenburg and her father noticed the stars illuminating the night sky while taking a walk around the city. They quickly found a nearby field for a better view.

“We were in awe,” Eikenburg said. “It felt like we were somewhere else, definitely not in Houston.”

As the snowstorm passed, the light pollution returned, and citizens could no longer see the stars as easily. Beck hopes that environmental efforts make the sky clear again. AP Environmental Science teacher Graham Hegeman believes that Beck’s wishes will soon become true.

“The severity and frequency of these extreme weather events will increase,” Hegeman said. “We can be pretty certain that we’ll have another one in the next 20 years.”

According to Hegeman, climate change caused the snowstorm. Before the weather event, cold air from north Canada traveled south. Due to global warming, the destabilized polar jet stream could not contain it. Thus, Winter Storm Uri formed.

Some politicians, however, blamed the weather event on green energy and wind turbines. Hegeman disagrees with these claims.

“I was so upset that they decided this was a great time to start bashing on wind power,” Hegeman said. “They should be focusing on people’s wellness instead.”

Eikenburg treasures seeing the sky unpolluted during the snowstorm. 

“It was super nice to see such a metropolitan area so clean,” Eikenburg said. “I really hope that we can achieve something like this again.”

Additional reporting by Ellie Monday and Ella Chen.