BAR HARBOR — The eighth annual Acadia Night Sky Festival gets underway next week with events ranging from outdoor “Star Parties” and astronomy sessions with scientists and park rangers, to boat cruises and art demonstrations. Talks and lectures will run the gamut from discussions of the Hubbell Space Telescope to whether or not alien life forms exist.
The keynote session is set for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor. Brother Guy Consolmagno will speak on “Discarded Worlds: Astronomical ideas that were almost correct… .”
Many early astronomers were wrong, sometimes hilariously, sometimes heartbreakingly so. The talk will feature the lessons that 21st-century astronomers can take from these discarded images.
Consolmagno is a brother in the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus, working since 1993 as an astronomer and meteorite specialist at the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory), located in the papal summer gardens outside Rome.
Along with more than 200 scientific publications, he is the author of a number of popular books including “Turn Left at Orion” (with Dan Davis), and most recently, “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?” (with Paul Mueller). Admission is free.
Among the most popular events in past festivals are the “Star Parties” held in Acadia National Park.
The first is set for Friday, Sept. 23, at the Seawall Picnic area on Route 201A in Manset. Rangers, volunteers and local astronomers will point out constellations and other night sky features visible with the naked eye, and through binoculars and telescopes. Organizers recommend dressing warmly and minimizing flashlight use to preserve night vision. Parking is available at the picnic area. No pets are allowed.
The second is set for Saturday night on the summit of Cadillac Mountain from 8-11 p.m. Access will be restricted to a shuttle bus running from Mount Desert Island High School on Route 233 in Bar Harbor. Local astronomers and rangers will point out constellations and other night sky features visible with the naked eye, and distant objects only visible through powerful telescopes. At 6:30 p.m., there will be “A Starry Endowment” presentation at the school before people board the shuttle bus.
Free. Summit parking restricted to handicap access only. No pets.
Stars over Sand Beach, which runs from 8-9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, in Acadia National Park, features a tour of the night sky with a ranger/naturalist, complete with stories and science. Free.
Night sky cruises
From 6:15-9 p.m. on Sept. 21, 23 and 24, an “Under the Stars” boat cruise will be operated by Bar Harbor Whale Watch, 1 West St., Bar Harbor.
Among those leading the trips will be Abbe Museum Educator George Neptune, local naturalist and amateur astronomer Lynn Havsall and whale watch guide Zack Klyver. Guests will cruise on Frenchman Bay onboard the 130-foot catamaran Atlanticat with a large top observation deck, three levels and a full bar and galley.
Neptune will provide Wabanaki stories and songs that describe how the stars and life came to be. Klyver will talk about the history of celestial navigation. Havsall will use a laser pointer to identify and describe constellations, planets, stars and distant galaxies.
For pricing and reservations, call 288-2386. The trips are weather dependent. Capacity is capped at 150 passengers per trip.
Thursday, Sept. 22
From 2-3 p.m., “The Antikythera Mechanism” will be discussed by Jon Thomas at the Northeast Harbor Library.
From 4-5 p.m., Jan Hoey will talk about “Howling at the Moon: Our Moon in Science, Culture and Myth” at the YWCA, 36 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor.
From 7-9 p.m., a post-keynote cocktail party is set for the Abbe Museum, 26 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor. This event will offer guests the opportunity to star gaze the fabulous Bar Harbor night sky from the Abbe’s backyard while enjoying delicious food and libations from local eateries. Tickets are available for $15 by calling 288-3519 or emailing [email protected] All Acadia Night Sky Festival speakers, sponsors and volunteers get in free.
Friday, Sept. 23
From 9-10:30 a.m., make a “German Star” by weaving and folding paper at Art on West, 78 West St., Bar Harbor. A donation of $10 to support the festival is suggested. Call 288-4229.
From 12-1 p.m., Randy Nelson, chairman for the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University Medical Center, will give the annual “Biology of Light” lecture at The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main St., Bar Harbor.
He will share insights from his current research on the effects of light at night on circadian organization of physiology and behavior.
Sun watch, telescopes
From 1:30-3 p.m., a “Celebration of the Sun” will be held on the Bar Harbor Village Green. Amateur astronomers and Acadia National Park rangers will offer safe solar viewing through a variety of specially equipped telescopes. There will be a demonstration of solar radio astronomy equipment.
Also from 1:30-3 p.m. at the Village Green, a “Meet the Telescopes” demonstration will be held. Acadia Astronomy Volunteers and others will be available to introduce you to the scopes in an informal setting.
From 2-3 p.m., Michael Bennett will give a talk entitled “Is Anybody out There?” at the Criterion Theatre, 35 Cottage St., Bar Harbor. What do modern scientists really think about the possibility of life beyond the Earth? Have aliens already reached Earth, or could our planet be the only abode of life in the entire universe?
From 3-4 p.m., Bob Reichman will make a presentation titled “Hail Jupiter, King of Planets!” at the Abbe Museum, 26 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor. He will recount the historic Jovian surveys and startling findings Galileo published 400 years ago.
From 4-5 p.m., Bert Probst will talk about “Fantastic Photos from Far Out-the Hubble Space Telescope” at the Southwest Harbor Library, 338 Main St., Southwest Harbor. “These pictures are not only eye candy, they have contributed greatly to our ever expanding knowledge of the universe,” organizers said.
From 5:30-6:30 p.m., Richard Luecke will take the audience “To the Heart of the Galaxy” at the Southwest Harbor Library, 338 Main St., Southwest Harbor. What is the Milky Way? How and when was it formed? What are its dimensions? Where is our solar system located in it? Which of its treasures can we see with binoculars and small telescopes?
Sip and print
From 6-8 p.m., there will be a “Sip and Print the Acadia Night Sky” session at ArtWaves, 329 Main St., Bar Harbor. This unique experience uses printmaking, inks, gelatin, styrofoam and clay on paper and fabric. Artists and non-artists are welcome; everything is included to bring home original art, new skills and great memories. Price: $40 ($10 discount for members).
Night sky photography
From 6-10 p.m., Brent Ander will share his thoughts on “Capturing the Night Sky” in a photography workshop at the Moore Auditorium, Schoodic Insititute, Acadia National Park, Winter Harbor.
This workshop is for the amateur to the professional photographer. Those who wish to learn how to successfully capture night images, have the required equipment and understand the requirements are encouraged to join. Depending on the weather, the group will gather on the coast at Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park and photograph the Milky Way galactic span over the Atlantic Ocean. Cost: $65 per person. For reservations, call 288-1310.
Ander also will offer the same session on Saturday evening.
Photographer Bob Thayer
From 6:30-9:30 p.m., Bob Thayer will lead a photography workshop at the Jesup Memorial Library and outside locations, 34 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor. The workshop is intended for experienced digital photographers with their own equipment. Thayer also will offer the same session on Saturday evening at the same time. Reservations required. $55 perperson. Visit www.bobthayerphoto.com
Jan Hoey will hold a “What’s up Tonight” at the Acadia National Park Seawall Amphitheater as a preview to the night’s Seawall Star Party. Participants will bone up on fall constellations and learn how to get the most out of the Star Party experience.
Beginning at 7 p.m., the movie “Lilo and Stitch” will be shown in Agamont Park at the corner of Main Street and Newport Drive, Bar Harbor. Families are welcome. Participants should bring a blanket to spread out under the stars. Free. Movie will start at dusk.
Saturday, Sept. 24
At 10 a.m., author Fran Hodgkins will take about “The Secret Galaxy” at the Southwest Harbor Library, 338 Main St., Southwest Harbor. Her book combines a read aloud-story for children with breathtaking photography and science, making for a perfect bedtime story.
From 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., solar viewing will be held on the front lawn of The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main St., Bar Harbor. In the event of rain, demonstrations of safe solar viewing equipment will happen indoors.
At 11 a.m., Richard Luecke will discuss “The Near Neighborhood: Our Solar System” in the auditorium at The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main St., Bar Harbor. Luecke will take the audience on a guided tour of the solar system and introduce you them to the moon, the planets, comets and other “stuff” like the International Space Station.
At noon, Michael Bennett will talk about “Astronomy from 45,000 Feet” in the auditorium at The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main St., Bar Harbor. In addition to ground-based and space telescopes, modern astronomers now can also study the heavens using a large telescope built into a high-flying airplane. It’s all about SOFIA, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.
At 1 p.m., Bert Probst will talk about “Chasing a Comet” and the Rosetta mission, the first ever to make a successful soft landing on a comet.
At 2 p.m., Andrew Johnston will discuss “Mapping the Universe from Backyard Observing to Computer Visualization.”
At 3:30 p.m., Jon Thomas will talk about “What If There Were No Moon?”
At 4:30 p.m., Bob Reichman will talk about “An Eye to the Sky.” If the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt are all you can easily find in the night sky, come to expand your horizons in this session that will share easy-to-find shapes, constellations and “anchor” stars in our night sky.
Saving the night sky
At 6:30 p.m., Chad Moore will give a talk titled “A Starry Endowment” about saving the night sky view at the MDI High School, 1081 Eagle Lake Road, Bar Harbor.
How do we preserve this starry heritage to ensure that future generations can experience this profound and humbling gift? Chad Moore was a longtime scientist for the National Park Service, founding the NPS Night Skies Team that worked worldwide to measure light pollution and conserve natural darkness.
Sunday, Sept. 25
From 9 a.m. to noon, a “Meet an Astronomer Brunch” will take place at the Common Good Cafe, 19 Clark Point Road, Southwest Harbor. Drop in at any time for fresh hot popovers and oatmeal, hear the Common Good ukelele band entertain with space-themed songs and chat with astronomers. Admission by donation.
From 10-11 a.m., a special Star Dome will be set up inside the Jesup Memorial Library, 34 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor. See what might be visible in the sky from the comfort of a grand dome inside the library. Limited to 55 participants.
Science meets science fiction
At 1 p.m., author Julie Czerneda will talk on the topic “Where Science Meets Science Fiction” at the Jesup Memorial Library, 34 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor.
Her newest novel, “The Gates to Futures Past,” will be released on Sept. 6 and will be available at her talk courtesy of Sherman’s.
100 years of discovery
At 2 p.m., Jon Thomas will talk about “100 Years of Astronomical Discovery” at the Jesup Memorial Library, 34 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor. The talk highlights a few of the most significant discoveries about our universe over the last 100 years. Does Mars really have water? Has another Earth been found?
Secrets of navigation
At 3 p.m., Andrew Johnston will talk about “Navigation Across the Oceans, Earth and Space” at the Jesup Memorial Library, 34 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor. Audience members will learn how astronauts experimented with techniques similar to ship navigators centuries ago and how space exploration opened up new frontiers and challenges for finding our way on the Earth and across space.
At 4 p.m., “Top Tourist Sites of the Solar System” will be discussed by Michael Bennett at the Jesup Memorial Library, 34 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor. What are the top future tourist sights in our solar system? Using the latest NASA images, this entertaining talk will show the audience a giant volcano on Mars that is three times higher than Mt. Everest, the view from inside the rings of Saturn, a tiny moon of Jupiter with over 400 active volcanoes, lakes of liquid nitrogen on Pluto and much more.
From 7-10 p.m. on the evenings of Sept. 21-25, Castine Kayak is offering night-time “Bioluminescent & Star Gazing” paddles. Castine Kayak, 17 Sea St. The tour costs $55. Call 866-3506 for reservations. www.castinekayak.com