Boulder City embarking on ‘astrotourism’ goal

Boulder City embarking on 'astrotourism' goal
Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 12:14 AM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Work is beginning to make Boulder City an astrotourism destination.

Unsurprisingly, the light pollution that accompanies Las Vegas’ bright neon signs and sprawling population makes it nearly impossible to more than just a few stars at night from inside the Valley.

Boulder City is aiming to make it so Las Vegans and visitors don’t have to drive to the middle of the desert to get a good look at the stars, making the city of about 15,000 a more attractive stargazing destination.

The city is doing this by replacing its lights in places like parks, parking lots and roads with dimmable bulbs that have shields on their sides.

“The idea is to make sure the light goes where we want it to go,” explained Boulder City Utilities Director Joe Stubitz. “It doesn’t go out into the natural night sky. It doesn’t go out into people’s backyards.”

Stubitz says Boulder City could be an International Dark Sky Association Community, which, in addition to making more of the night sky visible, is concerned with light pollution’s effect on wildlife.

“It does affect animals in a lot of different negative ways – our impacts on the environment,” Stubitz said.

A few hundred of the 2,500 streetlights in Boulder City have already been replaced.

The project was made possible through a grant from the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation and the Economic Development Agency. It should take about five years to complete.

By that time, you should be able to see a lot more stars when you look up in Boulder City after sundown.

“Looking out at the eastern part of the night sky, you’ll be able to see a lot of constellations,” Stubitz predicts. “And we still see that now, but that’s what we’re hoping to bring Boulder City -- to experience that natural beauty of the sky.”

To accelerate the darkening of skies in the city, the local government is incentivizing people to install their own dimmable lights on their properties with rebate programs.

The National Park Service reports that in addition to saving money with more economical bulbs, dark sky tourism brings a big boost to the local economy.