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Turn Out the Lights! Truckee Dark Skies & Best Places To Stargaze

Alex Silgalis
December 14, 2023
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Over the past five decades, the decline in the quality of our night sky, caused by light pollution, has gained national importance. Surprisingly, 80% of Americans nowadays can't see the Milky Way due to the issue. One of Truckee’s precious resources is its access to the great outdoors including a sky teeming with stars. And from that, it hosts some of the best places to stargaze. The town of Truckee has joined the Dark Sky Movement and invites you to do the same!

What Is DarkSky International

At its core, DarkSky International is a movement to reduce light pollution. It emphasizes the crucial importance of our community in safeguarding and enhancing Truckee's dark night skies by adhering to responsible lighting practices. Join the movement to improve the natural nocturnal environment and shield our communities and wildlife from the harmful effects of light pollution.

Why Truckee’s Sky Is One Of The Best

Truckee stands as one of those rare locations on Earth where everything comes together to offer a captivating backdrop for stargazing. Remarkably, despite California being the most populated state in the nation, the Sierra mountains act as a natural shield, protecting Truckee from the glare of city lights. Therefore, enjoying the night sky isn't limited to just one season. It's a year-round delight.

A starry sky above the Old 40 bridge in Truckee.

Where To Stargaze in Truckee-Tahoe

The ideal location for stargazing combines as little light pollution as possible, ease of access, and an open sky. Prosser Reservoir, a mere ten-minute drive north of Truckee, is a great place to start. With approximately 11 miles of shoreline, there's ample space to settle in with your partner and relish the night sky. Another fantastic location for stargazing is one of the public piers at Donner Lake. The gentle lapping of the water against the shore, the shimmering stars above, and the moon's glow on the water combine to create a sensory-rich experience that you won’t forget. Remember to pack a headlamp to get to and from your stargazing location safely.

Truckee-Tahoe Night Sky & Stargazing Tours

Embark on a tour of the sky by award-winning astronomer Tony Berendsen as he gives an in-depth look at our solar system with powerful Celestron telescopes. In the summer, these Tahoe Star Tours events take place on select Thursday and Saturday evenings at Northstar. In the winter, you can join his Snowshoe Star Tour with the Tahoe Adventure Company, which comes complete with snowshoes, trekking poles, expert guides, and a delightful spread of hot drinks and snacks.

Why Is It Important

Dark night skies aren’t just a scenic resource. Scientists have learned that light pollution has been linked to negative consequences in human health, including increased risk of sleep disorders, depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Along with human health, the health of wildlife and our ecosystem also depend on dark skies. For example, migrating birds use stars to fly at night and can be disoriented by artificial lights. Learn about why we need dark skies and the effects of light pollution on wildlife and ecosystems, human health, energy and climate at DarkSky International.

A starry night sky in Truckee.

Excess Lighting Emits 21 Million Tons of CO2!

In addition to affecting wildlife and ourselves, light pollution is costly. Excessive lighting is wasteful, with 30% of outdoor lighting in the U.S. going to waste. This amounts to a staggering $3.3 billion loss. Additionally, excess outdoor lighting contributes to 21 million tons of annual CO2 emissions, necessitating the planting of 875 million trees yearly for offsetting.

How You Can Help

By being mindful of indoor and outdoor light use, you can help protect Truckee’s dark skies. Ensure that lights are useful, provide only as much as needed light, and are shielded correctly. When not in use, they should be turned off, put on a timer to turn off automatically, or only activated temporarily with a motion sensor. Consider switching off exterior lighting by 10 p.m. including holiday lighting. Most importantly, spread awareness about this critical issue and join the Dark Sky movement. With your help, both visitors and residents alike can continue to enjoy the dark sky above them for future generations. After all, there’s a whole universe out there to take in.

Alex Silgalis

Born and raised as a flat lander in Chicagoland, Alex spent his summers working to save up for a season pass to the local hill along with any trips out West or beyond he could squeeze in. It was during his travels, both as a kid & an adult, Alex discovered his inspiration for Local Freshies® . His idea was to create the No. 1 Web site providing the local scoop on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer alongside the love of his life and business partner, Jaime Pirozzi.

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