Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia Night Sky Festival Begins September 9, 2010

September 9, 2010, 12:59 pm

Two small slivers of glass—nestled in a tube the length of a person’s arm—changed the way we see the universe. Last year, 2009, marked the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of a telescope to investigate the starry skies. In 1609, aided by a simple telescope, Galileo recorded his observations as sepia-toned sketches depicting vast lunar seas, Saturn’s faint rings, and Jupiter’s moons.

At Acadia National Park, where dark night skies are prevalent, visitors are encouraged to celebrate all things celestial and rediscover the wonders of the night. That holds especially true in September, when the annual Acadia Night Sky Festival rolls into town.

From September 9 to 13, the 2nd Annual Acadia Night Sky Festival will celebrate the night sky through education, science and the arts. A major goal of the 2010 astronomy-themed events is to help foster awareness and protection of a precious resource—dark nights filled only with starlight.

Poorly directed lighting produces sky glow that obstructs our view of the stars, planets and other galaxies. Although densely populated urban areas within a day’s drive of Acadia have already lost sight of the Milky Way, the park still offers inky nights awash in brilliant starlight. To learn more about how you can help preserve our dark night skies, check out our article about light pollution in the national parks.

Events held at Acadia National Park are listed below. The full calendar of community events, including up-to-date ticket and event information, can be found at nightskyfestival.org. The downloadable Acadia Night Sky Festival brochure, also includes an event schedule and a helpful map.

2nd Annual Acadia Night Sky Festival, September 9-13, 2010

Thursday, September 9

Stars Over Sand Beach (8 - 9 p.m.; talk)
Sit back and gaze at Acadia’s amazing night sky, weather permitting. Explore some stories and science associated with the stars. Dress warmly and please minimize flashlight use to preserve night vision. Meet on Sand Beach, located on Park Loop Road south of Entrance Station.

Friday, September 10

Knowing the Night (Dusk; easy 1-mile walk)
Use your senses to explore the mystery and intrigue of the night world. Fee: $10 adults, $5 children ages 8–12. Make reservations no more than three days before the program date in person at Hulls Cove Visitor Center or by calling (207) 288-8832.

Saturday, September 11

Understanding Our Universe (11 a.m. - 3 p.m.; solar telescopes and 2 – 4 p.m.; additional activities)
Through hands-on, family friendly activities, discover how simple observations on earth can offer clues to the greater mysteries of our planet, solar system, and beyond! Meet at Sieur de Monts Nature Center, located at the intersection of Route 3 and Park Loop Road south of Bar Harbor.

Star Party on Cadillac Mountain (8 – 10 p.m.; telescopes)
Rangers, volunteers and local astronomers will point out constellations and other night sky features visible with the naked eye, binoculars and through telescopes. Dress warmly and please minimize flashlight use to preserve night vision. Meet at the Cadillac Summit parking area, located at the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Sunday, September 12

Understanding Our Universe (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; solar telescopes and 2 – 4 p.m.; additional activities)
Through hands-on, family friendly activities, discover how simple observations on earth can offer clues to the greater mysteries of our planet, solar system and beyond! Meet at Sieur de Monts Nature Center, located at the intersection of Route 3 and Park Loop Road south of Bar Harbor.

Star Party at Seawall (8 – 10 p.m.; telescopes)
Rangers, volunteers,and local astronomers will point out constellations and other night sky features visible with the naked eye, binoculars and through telescopes. Dress warmly and please minimize flashlight use to preserve night vision. Meet at the Seawall Picnic Area, located on Route 102A south of Southwest Harbor.

Monday, September 13

Sunrise on Cadillac Summit (6:08 a.m.)
A fitting conclusion to the festival, witness the daily ritual of nighttime starlight giving way to our daytime star, the sun. Dress warmly. There will be a ranger on-site from 5:30- 7 a.m., but no formal program. Meet at the Cadillac Summit parking area, located at the top of Cadillac Mountain.