By Stephanie Clement, Friends of Acadia Conservation Director
I can’t wait for this weekend! Why, you ask? The weather is looking crystal clear for the 5th Annual Acadia Night Sky Festival, the 26th through the 30th. I am so thrilled that Friends of Acadia got together with Acadia National Park, the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, and several other organizations to start this festival that celebrates and encourages protection of Downeast Maine’s dark night skies. What a resource! I never tire of going outside at night and looking up to see what’s there – whether the Milky Way pouring into the ocean, satellites silently crossing overhead in summertime, or just the endless sparkling skies. We are a planet moving through space, and there is nothing more humbling than to think of the vastness of the universe.
The programming for this year’s festival is especially robust. I encourage everyone to check out the schedule at www.acadianightskyfestival.com. Our keynote speaker is Dr. Alex Filippenko, a Nobel Prize winner for his work on the rapid expansion of the universe. On top of that, we have star parties at three park locations on three nights of the festival, solar viewing during the day, night kayak and hiking trips, incredible talks by National Park Service astronomy volunteers and two astronauts, and movies and photography workshops. I hope you can join us!
And, while you’re out there enjoying this incredible resource that Acadia offers, take a moment to think about your own backyard. Can you change your outdoor lighting to full cut-off fixtures that prevent light from shining upward and washing out the starlight? Do your outdoor lights shine only where you need them? Have you considered knee-high lighting rather than floodlights along paths and dooryards? If we make these individual changes, and together work on larger policy issues for streetlights and commercial lighting, we can protect the dark night skies that are a disappearing resource in so many places. We are blessed here at Acadia, so let’s celebrate!