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Two NASA astronauts to participate in Mount Desert Island night sky festival

Mario Moretto | BDN
Mario Moretto | BDN
This September 2012 file photo taken from Cadillac Mountain during the Acadia Night Sky Festival shows the cloudy band of the Milky Way across the night sky.
By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Parts of the park’s terrain have been likened to a lunar landscape, but later this month, Acadia will land something that will heighten its celestial connections.

For the first time in its five-year history, the Acadia Night Sky Festival will have two NASA astronauts, one current and one former, participating in its multi-day program. One is Rick Hauck, who flew on three Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s and logged more than 400 hours in space. The other is active astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman, who flew on two Space Shuttle missions in the 1990s and served at the International Space Station in 2010 and 2011.

The 2013 Acadia Night Sky Festival is scheduled to take place from Sept. 26-30. The vast majority of the festival’s indoor and outdoor events, which will occur during daylight and nighttime hours, will be held on Mount Desert Island. The festival will include nearly 40 organized programs such as hikes, workshops, lectures, crafts, films, art exhibits and stargazing, according to festival officials.

Hauck will speak at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor about the history and expected future of human spaceflight. At 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, Coleman and her husband, glass artist Josh Simpson, will discuss space-inspired art along with painter Jane Runyeon at an opening of Simpson’s and Runyeon’s works at Blum Gallery at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor.

John Kelly, public information officer for Acadia, said the festival’s biggest event again is expected to be the ‘star party’ viewing event at the summit of Cadillac Mountain from 8 -10 p.m. on Saturday. Last year 800 people attended the event, in which volunteer astronomers and park rangers point out features of the night sky with telescopes, binoculars, and the naked eye. More people are expected this year, Kelly said.

To better manage turnout, the summit road will be open only to a free shuttle service after 6:30 p.m., which will run continuously between the Hulls Cove Visitors Center and the Cadillac summit from 7-10:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to dress for chilly conditions and minimize flashlight use when attending the event to preserve viewing conditions.

More information about the festival can be found online at www.acadianightskyfestival.com and at the festival’s Facebook page l.

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