If your idea of an excellent trip to a national park includes gazing at the starry skies overhead, consider making plans to visit Acadia National Park in September when the 2nd Annual Acadia Night Sky Festival is celebrated.
As more and more parks and communities turn their heads to the night skies, these events are becoming more commonplace across the National Park System. Among parks that are backdrops for similar festivals are Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, just to name a very few.
The Acadia festival is set to get under way September 9th and continue right through until sunrise on September 13. Live music, poetry readings, art exhibits, and science-related programs are on the agenda, according to Bar Harbor officials.
There are opportunities for stargazing from different sites in the national park throughout the festival. Indoor and outdoor events are planned, but in case of rain, there will be a portable star lab on hand, according to festival organizers.
Highlights include night walks led by park rangers to observe the wildlife active during darkness, a special ecological program featuring owls, and a photography workshop led by local photographer Bob Thayer. During the workshop, Mr. Thayer will lead other photographers through the technical and artistic steps of capturing the night sky with their cameras.
Many events require advance registration, and some have a fee, so don't wait until Labor Day to make plans to attend. You can see a list of scheduled events at this site. Or, you can learn more about the event by checking out the festival's Facebook page.
Called a “grassroots celebration,” by Peter Lord, president of The Island Astronomy Institute, the festival is an extension of the collaboration of several community and government organizations, each dedicated to protect and preserve Acadia’s night sky.
Like Acadia, the skies over many national parks remain unobstructed by the light pollution coming from dense population centers. On clear nights, you usually can spot the Milky Way above Mount Desert Island.
The festival is presented by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Acadia National Park, Friends of Acadia, Island Astronomy Institute and a unique partnership of community and government organizations. It is made possible in part by the Jackson Laboratory.