BAR HARBOR — The photography exhibit “Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland” will open at the Abbe Museum on Thursday, Sept. 10, to coincide with the Acadia Night Sky Festival.
The museum’s partnership with schools in the Wabanaki communities gave students the opportunity to research, learn about and photograph the cosmos using telescopes owned and maintained by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
“The goal of the YCCC II program is to use hands-on exercises to teach youth how to control the MicroObservatory robotic telescopes over the internet and take their own images of the universe,” said Abbe Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy. “Here at the Abbe, the project also encouraged students to choose subjects based on Wabanaki stories about the stars. Each student had the opportunity to research traditional stories and interpret them in a modern context using 21st century technology.”
Originally beginning as an online exhibit featuring the Indian Township School, the exhibit features photos taken by children in the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Penobscot and Micmac communities in Maine. After hearing the Wabanaki night sky stories, each student was asked to choose a photography subject that they could connect to the stories, one that inspired them in some way. Once targets were chosen, students selected parameters such as exposure time, color filters and zoom angles to ensure a high quality photo. The images were then captured by the telescopes after sunset and emailed to the students.
After the students received their images, they used the MicroObservatory Image software to edit and colorize the photos. Students were able to remove noise – extra light in the photo that did not come from celestial bodies – before sharpening the lights, changing light levels and contrast, and colorizing the photos.
The exhibit is open through 2016. The Abbe Museum is open seven days a week now through October. The program is funded by the Smithsonian Institution’s Youth Access Grants program awarded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access. The project is led by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations.