Sky fest draws crowds

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Folks turned out to party with the stars at Seawall on Friday and on Cadillac Mountain on Saturday were rewarded with beautiful, clear nights. The star parties are the centerpiece of the annual Acadia Night Sky Festival.

About 750 people turned out in the dark Friday at Seawall to view constellations, planets and a bright dusting of the Milky Way in the Northeast sky.

As visitors arrived, a friendly crew of park employees and volunteers assisted with red cellophane to wrap flashlights, headlamps or other bright lights and point them towards the sights. This effect made it look as if the next stop was the Millennium Falcon for a light saber battle.

Following a trail highlighted by red lights, foreign accents and languages were mixed with the sound of rocks on the seawall below people’s feet.

“Ohs” and “Ahs” were frequently heard from the line of folks waiting for their turn at the telescopes. About 30 volunteer astronomers from clubs around New England were spread out along the rocky shore to explain what could be seen, both with the naked eye and through the lens.

Laser beams shot through the dark to highlight constellations and planets.

Although it was a large gathering of people, traffic flowed easily along the picnic area drive across from the Seawall Campground. As long as your focus stayed skyward, it was a sight to behold and worth the night out.

Attendance at the Cadillac Star Party reached 1,000 participants, most of whom were shuttled from the high school.

Dawnland, the mountaintop gift shop, stayed open for the event that had 150 people working at it. Seventy percent of those were volunteers, including the 72 volunteer astronomers and 12 high school students.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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