10th Annual Dark Sky Festival – Harmony, FL
Last year I had the privilege of writing a short piece about the Dark Sky Festival in Harmony, Florida. I really enjoyed learning about the town of Harmony and the Festival they host every year so when I was asked again this year I jumped at the opportunity. This year’s Dark Sky Festival promises to be the most successful yet.
Once again the town of Harmony, Florida is pleased to present to you the 10th annual Dark Sky Festival! For the last ten years Harmony, a small town southeast of Orlando, has hosted a festival to celebrate the wonder of the Earth’s most beautiful natural resource, the night sky. On the night of February 2nd, 2013 the public is invited to attend a night of celebration and education focused on learning about the night sky and the benefits of living under a night sky free from the effects of excessive artificial lighting. The effects of excessive artificial lighting are scientifically proven to have negative effects on human and wildlife health, to damage the nighttime ecosystem, and of course mask the beauty of the starry night sky.
Harmony, Florida was founded in 2003 by Orlando’s former Humane Society/SPCA director Martha Lentz with the goal of creating a community where humans can live in harmony with nature and the environment. The town was master planned into one of the most unique communities in Florida. One of the goals of the community is to limit its impact on light pollution to preserve a natural view of the night sky. Light pollution is the sum of all the wasted artificial light that is shined into the sky as a result of poorly designed lighting fixtures. This wasted light produces the all too familiar sky glow effect that turns the sky pink near the horizon and washed out overhead. The effects of light pollution can be limited, and even reversed as residents of Harmony know. By taking simple and inexpensive steps to ensure all outdoor lighting fixtures are fully-shielded (meaning no light escapes upward from its source) Harmony has created a very aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly lightscape. Furthermore, the lighting regulations created for Harmony are so impressive that the surrounding county which includes parts of Walt Disney World has adopted them as a lighting ordinance.
This year’s Dark Sky Festival promises to be the most successful one yet. Over 5,000 people attended the 2012 Festival and again the town expects to see growth in attendance. Attractions of this year’s Festival include the following:
- Public stargazing with over 50 telescopes
- Speakers from NASA, Seminole State College Planetarium, the International Dark Sky Association, and more
- Two mobile planetariums with presentations and NASA Exhibits
- Variety of kids activities including Mad Science, demos from high school robotics clubs, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf and the Kids Zone
- Music, food, specialty booths, and presentations from scientists
This year’s speakers include International Dark Sky Association’s Executive Director Bob Parks and Jon Cowart, Deputy Partner Manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. If you stick around long enough you might even run into some Star Wars characters from the famous 501st Legion!
Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to learn more about astronomy and the dark sky movement as well as a chance to explore the universe first-hand through some incredible telescopes! Astronomers from around the state have their telescopes set up for free, public viewing. If you’re completely new to the field of astronomy or a seasoned pro the Dark Sky Festival at Harmony surely has something for everyone. Make sure you stop by the beautiful town of Harmony on Saturday February 2, 2013 to enjoy this rapidly growing annual celebration of the night sky. Festivities begin at dusk at 5 pm and continue until 10 pm.
To learn more about the town of Harmony please visit the town’s website www.harmonyfl.com.
Posted on January 23, 2013, in NASA, Night Sky, Star Parties and tagged Astronomy, Dark Sky Festival, Florida, Harmony Florida, International Dark Sky Association, Light pollution, NASA, Night sky. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.