Light Pollution – How to Mitigate Lecture by J. Kelly Beatty
75 Russell Street
Lewiston, ME 04240
Featuring a lecture on light pollution by J. Kelly Beatty at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 7, followed by and a reception in its groundbreaking exhibition, Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography, the Bates College Museum of Art celebrates the opening of a new academic year. A star party guided by the Central Maine Astronomical Society and the Bates Astronomy Club follows the reception, weather permitting. At the star party, visitors can see first-hand views of deep sky objects, planets, double stars, and other wonders of the night sky, guided by amateur astronomers with years of experience and detailed knowledge of the sky. The events are free and the public is welcome.
Kelly Beatty has been explaining the science and wonder of astronomy to the public since 1974. An award-winning writer and communicator, he specializes in planetary science and space exploration as Senior Contributing Editor for Sky & Telescope magazine. Beatty is also on the astronomy faculty at the Clay Center Observatory in Brookline, Massachusetts. He holds a Bachelors degree from the California Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University. Kelly has been active in efforts to reduce light pollution for more than 20 years. He chairs the New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (nelpag.org) and is on the Board of Directors for the International Dark-sky Association (darksky.org).
Speaking about light pollution, Beatty says, “We denizens of Earth stand at a crossroads. For decades we’ve allowed the sprawl of civilization to steal ever more stars from our nighttime skies. But this loss does not have to be permanent. Light pollution can be reversed, easily, by common-sense approaches that not only restore the night sky’s beauty but also provide safe, energy-smart lighting solutions for our 24/7 society.” Light pollution is also an environmental hazard, with correlations to cancer rates in humans and causing disruptions to animal migrations and breeding.
Stars, adrift in the night sky have inspired humankind since prehistoric times, informing our understanding of the universe and igniting countless creative imaginations. A glimpse of stars in a dark sky provokes an immediate emotional response and sense of wonder, resulting in cultural impacts that can be seen in a multitude of examples, from ancient creation myths to current cinema, and they have captured the eye of photographers from the earliest history of their medium. Their creations are nothing less than overwhelming, often depicting humbling, glorious delights invisible to both the naked eye and even telescopic views, but which are revealed only through photographic means. “Unfortunately,” says Anthony Shostak, Curator of Education for the Museum and the organizer of Starstruck, “these sights are becoming ever more elusive to earth-bound astronomers, sky gazers, and artists. Even as we enter an unprecedented era of telescope and camera evolution, light pollution from urban and suburban sprawl dims the stars planet wide, estranging us from our most ancient of cultural wellsprings and threatening to wither the future of a blooming branch of the fine arts.”
Starstruck is a perfect exhibition for teachers in all levels of education to engage with art related to a variety of subjects including astronomy and physical science, history, geography, literature, religion, and math. Group tours are welcome by appointment: (207) 786-8302.
The Bates College Museum of Art is open free to the public Mondays through Saturdays 10-5, and Wednesday evenings September through May until 9 p.m. For directions and more information about events, please visit bates.edu/museum/.