Duluth—This September will kick off a celebration of the stars in the Twin Ports and Lake Superior region. Celebrate the Night Sky is a week of activities and events, including a presentation of the SKYGLOW Project, neighborhood star parties, and a seminar of national experts in lighting.
Organized by Starry Skies Lake Superior, the celebration runs from Sept. 17-23, with events held at a number of different venues in the Twin Ports and around the region. The week-long celebration is meant to raise awareness about reducing light pollution.
Award-winner filmmakers Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan will kick off the week on Sunday night, Sept. 17 with the renowned SKYGLOW Project, a visual odyssey documenting the darkest skies in North America, and the effects of light pollution on humans and the environment. The SKYGLOW Project has been featured worldwide, from the Washington Post and the BBC to the National Geographic and NASA.
Light pollution is no small concern in the nation. It is estimated that 80 percent of people in the U.S. can’t see the Milky Way, or more than the handful of stars visible in most urban areas.
“Along with all the natural beauty we enjoy here in the Twin Ports, we have relatively good visual access to the stars,” said Starry Skies Lake Superior (SSLS) chapter president Cindy Hakala. “As we install brighter and whiter LED lighting, we are systematically chipping away at this access.”
A Night Sky Seminar is slated for Sept. 21. The all-day event is designed for both professionals and citizens to learn about lighting options, human and ecological health, and cultural values connected with seeing the stars.
Event coordinator Randy Larson explained, “There is a lot of research about how new lighting technologies are affecting human and environmental health and safety. We are bringing in a world-class array of speakers to discuss these issues and educate about our options.”
Other events, including neighborhood star parties, will be held so residents can view the stars through telescopes. Music and gallery events are also planned, and local restaurants will have the chance to participate with food and drink specials related to the stars.
“We want to make celebrating the night skies as accessible as possible, and that’s why we are scheduling neighborhood events. Organizers in other towns around Lake Superior are working with us to make this a truly regional experience,” explains Cynthia Lapp, SSLS member.
The idea for the seminar arose with the advent of new outdoor LED lighting fixtures that are starting to be installed in the area. Many residents have concerns about how brighter lighting is being used around the community. SSLS, the local chapter of the International Dark Sky Association, is behind the movement to raise awareness about light pollution, and establish the Lake Superior region as a destination for viewing the stars and northern lights.
To learn more about Celebrate the Night Sky, visit: starryskiesls.org.