BAR HARBOR — The 11th Annual Acadia Night Sky Festival is set for Sept. 25-29. The festival is a community celebration to promote the protection and enjoyment of Downeast Maine’s stellar night sky as a valuable natural resource through education, science and the arts. The festival will feature dozens of events, including workshops, lectures, films, boat cruises, arts and crafts and, of course, stargazing.
The Southwest Harbor Public Library is sponsoring a talk by Shawn Laatsch about astronomical observatories in Hawaii Thursday, Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Southwest Harbor.
Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island is home to 12 world-class international observatories that have been shaping astronomical knowledge over the last several decades. The site is ranked as the best in the world in terms of astronomical seeing and was among the first to use adaptive optics allowing for significant gains for ground-based observations. Laatsch will review some of the latest discoveries and offer glimpses of the future of this key astronomical site.
Laatsch is the director of the Emera Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium in Orono and President of the International Planetarium Society, Inc. He has more than 25 years of experience in planetariums, having directed facilities in Hawaii, Kentucky and Maryland as well as managing the construction and installation of a number of facilities in the U.S. and abroad.
He has taught undergraduate astronomy courses at the University of Louisville, East Carolina University and the University of Hawaii at Hilo using traditional and online methodologies. Laatsch serves as President of the International Planetarium Society, Inc. the world’s largest organization of planetarium professionals and is a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador.
This year’s keynote event is a talk by Jackie Faherty on “The Milky Way as You’ve Never Seen It Before,” Friday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Criterion.
Faherty is senior scientist and senior education manager, jointly, in the Department of Astrophysics and the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History. She is working at the forefront of brown dwarf and exoplanet atmosphere detection and characterization.
Faherty is continually striving to create more opportunities for underrepresented minorities to enter STEM fields through unique outreach endeavors.
The Northeast Harbor Library will host a presentation by Bob Veilleux on Friday, Sept. 27 from 2-3 p.m. “Rocks from Space” is about meteorites and their significance in astronomy. Veilleux have numerous meteorites for people to see, hold and discuss. Participants are invited to bring along any suspected meteorites to have them verified for authenticity.
Veilleux was a “Teacher in Space candidate from New Hampshire and present at the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster.
He has been an amateur astronomer and photographer of the night sky for more than 30 years. For ten years after retirement as a teacher, he was a part-time educator at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery center in Concord, and he continues as a volunteer at the Discovery Center.
He has been an avid meteorite collector for many years and has a collection of over 350 meteorites from all over the Earth as well as a few samples from both Mars and the moon. Both the University of New Hampshire and the Discovery Center refer any suspected meteorites brought to them to Bob for identification. Contact 276-3333.
The Cadillac Mountain Star Party is set for Saturday, Sept. 28 from 8-11 p.m. Participants must reserve parking for their vehicles at Mount Desert Island High School and ride a shuttle to Cadillac Mountain.
Participants are invited to drop in at any time during the ongoing program to visit with more than 50 volunteer astronomers and park rangers who will describe constellations and other celestial objects visible with the naked eye and telescopes.
The best star-viewing time will be after 9 p.m. Participants are free to stroll the summit and spend as much time as they like at the star party.
Parking for the event is only available at Mount Desert Island High School by ticketed reservation. Limited reservations are only available online on a first-come, first-served basis for $5 per vehicle.
Reservations are nonrefundable if the event is canceled for any reason (including weather) or if a reservation holder is unable to attend.
To reserve a parking space, visit acadianightskyfestival.org/calendar/cadillac-mountain-star-party.
Parking anywhere along Eagle Lake Road will be prohibited. Parking at the Cadillac Mountain summit is only available for vehicles with people with disabilities (no reservations required). Cadillac Mountain Road will be closed to all other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists at 6:45 p.m.
Starting at 7:30 p.m., the shuttle will run continuously between Mount Desert Island High School and Cadillac Mountain. The line for boarding the shuttle will form in the high school gym, and restrooms will be available. The last shuttle will depart Mount Desert Island High School at 9:30 p.m., and the last shuttle will depart Cadillac Mountain at 11:15 p.m.
Shuttle riders should plan on approximately 20 minutes to travel to summit or back to high school. Please note that pets, coolers, folding chairs, and tripods are not allowed on the shuttle since space is very limited.
Participants are encouraged to dress warmly and minimize flashlight use to preserve night vision. If available, visitors should use a red night vision flashlight or cover a standard flashlight with red cellophane.
The Summit Center gift shop and restrooms at the top of Cadillac Mountain will be open during the event.
Call 387-0807 to find out if this event has been cancelled due to weather.