Many species of birds need starry skies to navigate. Young migrating birds learn to use a ‘stellar compass’ to help point them in the right direction on their long flight. They become disoriented, and even trapped, by bright city lights. Artificial lighting also changes where birds build their homes, and can disrupt the timing of rising, feeding, and mating for bird species.

Newly hatched bird in a nest

Photo by Mike Sirianni

We’ve all seen moths swarming around a bright streetlight, but did you know that scientists have estimated one third of them will die before sunrise? Moths that fly near lights are also less likely to avoid predators. Without dark skies, many insect species are less able to find mates or food, and artificial light interferes with their circadian rhythms.

Closeup image of a moth.

Prey animals need dark skies to provide safety from predators. When the night sky is too bright, they are unable to forage for food. Many animals also need darkness to travel. When the landscape is broken up by patches of artificial light, they cannot reach the resources they need.

Frog partially submerged in a pond

Photo by Mike Sirianni

Night time visits by insects help plants reproduce, but artificial lights keep plants and pollinators apart. Plants need the sun, and lighting is one of several cues they use to germinate, grow, and reproduce. When night skies are artificially bright, plants change the timing of their life cycles, but starry skies can help them thrive.

A close up of wildflowers

Photo by Kurt Kuznicki

We have always turned to the sky for inspiration. Every culture has stories inspired by the constellations overhead, and gazing up has sparked our curiosity for millennia. Now, a majority of the world’s population lives under light pollution, and 80% of people living in the United States can’t see the Milky Way at night. But if you have ever gone out stargazing with friends on a clear night, you know that our shared wonder at starry skies connects us.

Photo showing star trails and a petroglyph during long exposure

Nevada’s starry skies are unique! From Massacre Rim to Great Basin National Park, Nevada is home to some of the best stargazing in the country. Dark sky tourism supports local economies as folks come to experience our pristine nights. Save starry skies to help protect this valuable resource for our state.

An image showing light pollution in North America, with Nevada highlighted