Protecting the Dark Night Sky

TRADITION – Enjoying starry night skies on a quiet summer night is an important experience in the Torch Lake Watershed.

The stars, moon and planets can be awe-inspiring, romantic and fun!

Lights from our homes, driveways and walkways can disturb our view of the night sky and the views of our neighbors.


Why is the dark night sky important?

  • The dark night sky gives us views into space. Without binoculars or a telescope, we can see 5,000 stars and our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
  • Dark skies help us sleep better.
  • Wildlife, including birds like owls, depend on darkness to hunt, conceal their location, navigate or reproduce. Many species have far more sensitive vision than humans. Light pollution disrupts their behavior, habitat and migration.
  • Plants need the natural rhythms of light and dark, too.

Photo: Brad McArtor

How can you make a difference?

You can help restore the dark night sky. It is simple to do . . .

Enjoy the dark night sky.

Take the time to experience the dark night sky with your family and friends. Learn to identify the constellations, important stars and planets. Watch a meteor shower. Find the best sky watching dates here.

Use light only when you need it.

Install motion sensors and timers to insure lights are on only when needed. This costs less money, improves security and reduces light pollution.

Shield your lights.

Direct light where it’s needed rather than scattering it in all directions. Shielding lights downward reduces glare and light pollution. Many local zoning ordinances require lights have shields so they shine down rather than out and up.

Use less light.

Turn off lights at night. Artificial light blocks starlight. Switch to more energy efficient light bulbs (CFL/LED). Use smaller light bulbs and save energy.


Incandescent Light Bulbs Minimum Light Output CFL-EnergyStar Qualified Bulbs
Watts Lumens Watts
40 450 9-13
60 800 13-15
75 1,100 18-25
100 1,600 23-30
150 2,600 30-52

Talk to your neighbors.

Have a neighborhood Telescope party, Star party or Meteor  Shower party. Invite an amateur astronomer as a VIP to learn more about the dark night sky. Check out the cell phone app: Star Walk to find out what’s happening each night.

Reduce use of aerosol cans.

Aerosols in the atmosphere scatter light: some returns to Earth as light pollution (sky glow), some is redirected, and some is re-reflected.

What can you see in the dark night sky?

  1. Moonlight – Phases of the moon
  2. Starlight – Constellations
  3. Galactic light – Milky Way
  4. Zodiacal light – Dawn & dusk
  5. Shooting starlight – Meteor showers and comets
  6. Northern lights – Aurora borealis (solar storms entering Earth’s atmosphere)

Click here for this year’s dark sky events.

Don't just wish that Torch Lake will stay blue.
Choose a water-friendly lifestyle - make a difference!