Sky fest brings hundreds to Acadia

Posted Sept. 20, 2009, at 9:28 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:57 a.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The first-ever Acadia Night Sky Festival proved to be a hit over the weekend, drawing hundreds of participants to celebrate the many celestial wonders above and bring awareness to light pollution.

The festival, a collaboration of the Island Astronomy Institute, the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and Acadia National Park, began Thursday and runs through today.

There were numerous exhibits, panels, activities and interactive events throughout downtown Bar Harbor. Famed photographer Tyler Nordgren set up a gallery of his images inside the town municipal building and led advanced night photography workshops. Representatives of the Sky Connection, a Massachusetts-based educational firm, set up a traveling, inflatable “EduTarium” to demonstrate how to get the most out of stargazing.

Marc Fisher of Norridgewock spent Saturday morning and afternoon on a hill near the town dock with three of his telescopes offering visitors a chance to see the sky as he does. Fisher, who works for the state, has been an amateur astronomer for years and recently built a planetarium at his home.

“This is just about bringing people together to look at the night sky, but it’s not just the night sky,” he said early Saturday afternoon. “There is plenty to see in the daylight, too.”

Fisher had his scopes fixed on the sun, and with a filter, observers could see the glowing orb like never before.

Aside from a nod to the wonders of the sky, the Acadia Night Sky Festival advocated against light pollution, which hampers the ability to see, even with expensive telescopes.

Within the past year, three towns on MDI approved lighting ordinances aimed at protecting the night skies. Peter Lord, director of the Island Astronomy Institute, helped draft those ordinances and said recently he hopes the festival becomes an annual event to bring awareness to light pollution.

Fisher said Maine’s coast is better than most areas of the Eastern Seaboard.

“This happens to be a dark site,” he said of Bar Harbor. “It’s relatively rural and there is nothing but fish to the east.”

Daytime activity centered on the Bar Harbor municipal building on Cottage Street, but in the evenings visitors migrated outdoors. A Jupiter watch at Agamont Park on Friday celebrated the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons. Saturday night featured stargazing from the top of Cadillac Mountain with Fisher. Sunday evening was expected to feature stargazing from the Seawall picnic area.

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