Museum of Art offers lectures, star parties and more as ‘Starstruck’ shines on

“IC 5067” by Ken Crawford. Archival inkjet print.

The Museum of Art presents lectures, star-viewing parties and other public programs throughout the autumn in conjunction with the remarkable exhibition Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography.

These events open with a lecture about light pollution of the night sky by a senior contributing editor for Sky & Telescope magazine at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, in Room 104 of the Olin Arts Center at Bates. A reception in the museum and a star-viewing party (weather permitting) follow. The museum is located in the Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St.

Media notes: Hear Douglas Vakoch’s Nov. 3 presentation about explaining human aesthetics to extraterrestrials, courtesy of Maine Public Broadcasting’s “Speaking in Maine.”

Watch Bill Green’s Nov. 10 WCSH-TV story about a Starstruck-sponsored astrophotography camp in the Maine woods.

“M42, The Great Nebula in Orion” (2005), by Robert Gendler. Inkjet print.

The public is welcome to the exhibition and related events free of charge. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and until 7 p.m. Wednesday evenings.

For more information or to order the Starstruck catalog, please call 207-786-6158 or visit the museum website.

Showing at Bates through Dec. 15, Starstruck is among the first major exhibitions to treat astrophotography as an art genre. The exhibition, organized by museum Curator of Education Anthony Shostak, features 106 images by 38 artists from around the world. Together with its attendant catalog, Starstruck presents new scholarship in this rapidly evolving field.

Presenting the Sept. 7 lecture is J. Kelly Beatty, an award-winning writer who specializes in planetary science and space exploration for Sky & Telescope and is on the faculty at the Clay Center Observatory in Brookline, Mass. Beatty chairs the New England Light Pollution Advisory Group and is on the board of directors for the International Dark-Sky Association.

More about Starstruck.

“For decades we’ve allowed the sprawl of civilization to steal ever more stars from our nighttime skies,” he says. “But this loss doesn’t 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.”

A star viewing party. Photograph by Dennis di Cicco.

Following Beatty’s talk and the museum reception, the Central Maine Astronomical Society, Southern Maine Astronomers and the Bates Astronomy Club will hold a star party. Here visitors can experience firsthand 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.

Here’s a schedule of remaining museum events around Starstruck at Bates this fall:

  • Wednesday events: Solar telescopic viewings at noon and gallery talks at 12:30 p.m., led by museum of art education staff and interns, begin Sept. 12.
  • Oct. 6: Parents & Family Weekend lecture, reception and star party. Jeffrey Kenney ’80, a professor of astronomy at Yale University, offers a Cosmic Questions lecture on how to capture and interpret beautiful images of astronomical objects, and what they teach us. Lecture at 2:30 p.m. (Olin 104) and reception (museum) at 3:30 with a star-viewing party following (weather permitting).

“Bristlecone Pine and Milky Way, White Mountains, California” (2008), by Tony Rowell.
Lightjet print on Fuji Crystal Archive Gloss paper.

  • Oct. 17-20: Astrophotography workshop with Babak Tafreshi. Travel to Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness to image the stars from West Branch Pond Camps for four nights. For workshop details, please visit the museum website.
  • Oct. 27: Homecoming Weekend lecture, reception and star party. Boston-based photographer Sharon Harper discusses her images in “Starstruck” and her forthcoming book. Lecture at 2:30 p.m. (Olin 104) and reception at 3:30 (museum) with a star-viewing party following (weather permitting).
  • Nov. 3: Cosmic Questions lecture: Douglas Vakoch, director of interstellar message composition at the SETI Institute, explores how we might convey the aesthetics of humanity to extraterrestrials. 6 p.m. in Olin 104; refreshments in the museum follow. Co-sponsored by the departments of anthropology and rhetoric and the art museum.

Also planned, with dates to be announced, are artist talks and Cosmic Questions lectures by Jacqueline Woods, a West Coast-based Starstruck artist; Babak Tafreshi, founder of the website The World At Night and a Starstruck artist; and Alicia Soderberg ’00, an assistant professor of astronomy at Harvard.